Summer Night Lights keeps local parks open late to provide activities for kids

PICO-UNION, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Toberman Park in Pico-Union is one of 32 locations in Los Angeles where parks and recreation centers are now open until 11 p.m. as part of Summer Night Lights.

The program is aimed at reducing violent crime, combating the influence of street gangs, while providing a place for kids to play sports, take part in arts and crafts and other activities.

"It should be a time where people can come out to their safe space in their neighborhood without fear of any crime or other things that are going to happen after darkness," said Ruby Flores of the Los Angeles Police Department.

At the newly renovated South Park, LAPD officers get to know the people in the neighborhood by playing sports and taking time to talk.

"The uniform disappears a little bit and they see, 'Hey we have families too and maybe we have some things in common,'" said LAPD Officer Lyndon Barber.

If trouble arises, police say they've built a relationship with members of GRYD, or Gang Reduction and Youth Development, who can help intervene.

Many residents say Summer Night Lights has brought the community back together.
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