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Concern grows over uptick in violence at City of San Diego parks

Posted at 9:21 AM, May 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-03 12:21:12-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – There’s a concern among some parents at Teralta Park in City Heights, where San Diego Police are investigating a person's death that happenedearly Saturday morning.

"I've been coming here as a kid. We bring the kids here often, you know. And to know that someone that there was someone killed like just a couple of days ago that's really frightening,” said Briseyea Diaz, an resident of the area and mother.

Fellow mom Marialy Diaz added, "It's getting pretty bad with the violence and everything."

That violence is catching the eye of the San Diego Police Officers Association and its president, Jared Wilson.

"Right, in the last calendar year, going back to April of 2021, we've had 12 murders in city parks according to police department press releases. That's very dramatic,” Wilson said.

The association is calling for City Councilmember Monica Montgomery Steppe and the city to address this violence.

"The Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee, which she's a chair of, needs to address these issues, and it needs to say we're going to solve problems with more patrols,” Wilson said.

Councilmember Steppe issued a statement following the association's release:

“The San Diego Police Officers Association recently made a statement about the uptick in violence in our parks, which delivers misinformation about the jurisdiction of our parks and the police department. This statement articulates a fallacy of the work the Public Safety & Livable Neighborhoods Committee has consistently endorsed to improve public safety and our parks throughout the city of San Diego.

First, it is imperative to recognize it is no coincidence that the communities with high investment in quality resources share the lowest crime rates within our city. Inequality perpetuates violence. Poverty perpetuates violence. Disinvestment perpetuates violence. There is a pattern of disregard for communities South of the 8, which has undoubtedly contributed to the cycle of violence in our communities.

The SDPOA's ignorance to the compound deprivation of these communities, which they have taken an oath to serve and protect, exacerbates our current dilemma of growing violence in our city. When changes that increase transparency and accountability for this organization are proposed, it is often met with cynicism and resistance, ultimately widening the mistrust between law enforcement and the community.

As we continue to emerge out of the pandemic, we must continue directing our resources to departments struggling to meet people's basic needs, especially for residents South of the 8. Part of reimagining policing and public safety is shaping policy from a holistic approach, which must initiate reform that includes economic and social justice components. This is done by funding more community programs that activate spaces and enforces crime prevention by environmental design. Along with bringing solutions to the table, I have always welcomed ideologies, programming, and resources to improve the quality of life for all residents.

I look forward to continuing the work, which I have never shied away from, to ensure we prioritize healing and solutions that will decrease the violence in our communities.”

That’s something parents hope can be resolved for the parks their little one’s love.

"It's scary. Sometimes we don't even want to come out,” Briseyea Diaz said.

"It's something that doesn't happen every day. But when it does, it's really concerning to know that we bring our kids here and it's like really dangerous right now,” Marialy Diaz said.