City of Phoenix will continue overnight park patrols, wants to hire 14 rangers

Parkgoers say the park has never been cleaner and felt safer since the City of Phoenix started the park ranger pilot program less than a year ago.
Published: May. 11, 2023 at 5:57 PM MST|Updated: May. 11, 2023 at 6:16 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — Andrew Mora used to feel uneasy walking his dog Taco in Los Olivos Park, off 28th Street and Devonshire Drive in Phoenix, but not anymore. Back in February, a private security company started patrolling the park 7 days a week, from 8 at night until 10 in the morning, and it appears to have made a difference.

“A year ago, there were a lot more tents, dogs off leashes, but recently, with more police presence, it’s been a lot better,” Mora said. “A lot more safe at night.”

Los Olivas is one of a dozen parks around Phoenix that have had overnight patrols since February as part of a pilot program to make city parks safer. A city council sub-committee presented a breakdown on Tuesday of how the program is going. On several occasions, security personnel found graffiti, broken lighting, small fires and drug use, leading to 22 police calls. But the overall assessment was that crime and misconduct is down since the patrols started.

“It does provide a sense of security and safety to our community, to know there are folks out there making sure people are not in parks doing things they are not supposed to be doing,” City Council Member Ann O’Brien said.

The pilot program’s success has led to a proposal to make the park patrols permanent, with the hiring of 14 new park rangers. Funding to hire the park rangers is included in the city’s current budget proposal. The pilot program to patrol city parks is set to expire this summer. The plan is to get the new park rangers in place so there is no gap in safety.

Park visitor Barbara Palmer said it’s comforting to know that the patrols at her favorite park will continue. “I feel a lot safer,” Palmer said. “I think it’s a good idea if they can keep doing it. I would appreciate it. It makes me feel better to see them around.”