Armed guards in Riverside parks, councilman proposes


At Hunter Park in Riverside, surveillance cameras watch over visitors and rules are posted as security measures to keep the city's newest park in pristine condition.

"Everybody is welcome to our parks and we'd love to have people come to visit Riverside," said Riverside City Councilman Steve Adams. "Nobody is welcome to break the law here."

So Adams is proposing a radical idea: He wants private armed guards in every city park in Riverside to maintain safety and reduce crime.

"To augment the police department, to help us retake the parks where they have taken over the parks late at night, illegal encampments, drug dealing, gang activity," said Adams.

Adams says in recent years the city has spent $180 million to upgrade parks and build five new ones.

Safety is just one reason Bloomington resident May Siebert likes to bring her grandson to play in Riverside instead of a park closer to home.

"I've never seen anybody suspicious. Sometimes we're the only ones here," said Siebert.

But there is crime. Last month at Arlington Park, police shot a suspect they say opened fire on officers. A homeless man was also shot and killed in another park.

But not everyone likes the idea of armed guards.

"Ridiculous. It's a waste of money, waste of time," said Riverside resident Curtis Hines.

"If the police come around more often, maybe is that enough?" said Riverside resident Carlos Salinas.

Riverside Police already patrol parks.

"Unfortunately, we wish we have more officers, like most law enforcement everywhere. Because I think we do a pretty good job of paying a lot of attention to our parks," said Riverside Police Lt. Val Graham.

For now the idea is just that, and one that will likely be open for both city council and public discussion for some time.

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