Researched by: Sarah LeVario
Download 81.12 Kb.
Crime in Pomona’s
Researched by: Sarah LeVario
The idea of going to one of Pomona’s parks often strikes fear and worry into the
visitor’s initial reaction about visiting one of the parks. I must admit that I too felt this
way when presented with this project on Pomona’s parks. Many people have this
perception deeply embedded in their minds that Pomona’s parks are dangerous, gang
infested, dirty with graffiti, and unsafe to visit all around. This perception is what
inspired the thesis for this project; are Pomona’s parks dangerous or are they really safe?
In order to uncover if this perception is true or not I first had to look at what qualities a
park must have in order for it to be considered safe by its users. Then I had to look at
what created this perception in the first place. I then looked at what types of crimes were
being committed around the areas of six randomly chosen parks, one from each district in
Pomona. The six parks chosen were Hamilton Park from District One, Ralph Welch Park
from District Two, Renacimiento Community Center from District Three, Garfield Park
from District Four, Phillips Ranch Park from District Five, and Ganesha Park from
District Six. I then took the standards and applied them to the six randomly chosen parks
to see if they passed these standards. Finally I concluded my research looking at what
types of preventive measures the city is implementing in order too make the parks a safe
place. At the end of my research I proved whether the perception about Pomona’s parks
was valid or invalid.
What makes a Park safe?
The book, The Excellent Park System: What Makes it Great and How to
Get there, written by author Peter Harnik addresses what makes a park safe from crime
for its users. Harnik says, “Crime, of course, is dependent on a large number of factors
that are beyond the reach of the park and recreation department—poverty, drug and
alcohol use, population demographics, lack of stabilizing neighborhood institutions. But
there are other factors—park location, park design, presence of uniformed personnel,
presence of park amenities, availability of youth programming— over which the
department has some control. Ultimately the greatest deterrent is the presence of large
numbers of users.” For my research in addressing the question whether or not Pomona’s
parks are safe I looked at Harnik’s criteria of poverty, neighborhood institutions, park
location, presence of uniformed personnel, presence of park amenities, and availability of
youth programs, and the number of park users. I also looked at crimes happening around
the areas of the park compared to the amount of crime happening in the rest of the city.
However, to fully understand Pomona’s parks dangerous perception I had to look at what
created this perception in the first place.
The History and Creation of Perception
The city of Pomona was incorporated in 1888 and was known throughout
California as being a prosperous agriculture center. However, with the city’s prosperity
and growth came crime. In 1940 Pomona’s first gang called “The Sharkies”, a Latino
gang, began to emerge and claimed 12
Street as their territory. In 1954 the short film,
“Gang Boy” starred Pomona gang members and was based off the true story of a truce
between Latino gangs and white gangs in Pomona. Then in the late 1950s a rift between
members of “The Sharkies” resulted in the formation of a new Pomona gang called
The 1965 Watts riots caused many African American families to move away from
the violence in Los Angeles to the affordable housing in Pomona for a new start.
However, with these families also came young gang members. In the 1970s the Crips and
Bloods gangs from Los Angeles spread to the African American population in Pomona.
As a result new Latino gangs began to form in order to protect themselves from the
growing black gangs.
In an attempt to give Pomona’s youth something constructive to do instead of
participating in gang related activities; the city developed Cherrieville Park and Madison
Park; also known as Sharkie Park, in 1973. However, these parks became hotspots for
gangs to congregate and participate in activities such as drugs and alcohol use. The city
installed signs at the parks with the names “Sharkie” and “Cherrieville” which created
gang retaliations against each other’s parks. Rival gang members often ran over the signs
with their cars.
In the late 1970s Pomona’s Police Department formed an organized gang unit to
deal with the city’s escalating gang problems. However due to the lack of funding the
unit was forced to downsize from two officers to just one. In 1984 Pomona became the
first city in the nation to have a computerized gang tracking system. However, in the late
1980s to the mid 1990s, Pomona’s gang activity reached its climax with cocaine and
violence from gangs battling over territory. Religious leaders and community activists
were able to achieve a truce between the gangs that lasted for two years. Then on May 11,
1996, gang member Ronald Mendoza shot and killed Officer Daniel Fraembs. Officer
Fraembs was the first on-duty city police officer to be killed in the city’s 116 year history.
In 2002 Cal Poly Pomona joined the city and school district’s clean up efforts in
some of the crime infested neighborhoods. Then in 2004 CHP Officer Thomas Steiner
was gunned down outside of Pomona’s Superior Court by a “Sharkie” gang member as
part of his initiation for the gang. Lastly, in 2010 two gang members were shot and killed
at Ted Greene Park by rival gang members.
These are but some of the crimes that have been committed in Pomona due to
gang attacks. However, these were some of the most publicized crime incidents that drew
negative attention to the city of Pomona and thus further developed the perception of
Pomona as being a gang infested and dangerous city.
The gang’s history with the parks only further embeds the perception of the parks
being dangerous places. I asked, Andrea Rico, who is the youth and family services
manager for the City of Pomona, for her perception of a bad park in the city; she named
Hamilton Park. She identified it as such because of its gang related history, the poorer
neighborhood it is located in, and the large amounts of homeless people who stay at the
park. Her perception of a good park is Ganesha Park because its amenities are well kept,
it is in a good location, and because many people use the park. However, ironically she
pointed out that Hamilton Park and Ganesha Park have the same amount of homeless
people who stay in each park. But she added that at Ganesha Park the homeless people
are able to hide in the hills surrounding the park. This proves that perception may be
based on history and truth but sometimes places are not always what they appear to be.
The Dark Reality
Today, Pomona is the fifth largest city in Los Angeles County with a
population over 150,000. Based on information obtained from the 2006 Bureau of Justice
Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) rates, “Pomona is ranked 4
in violent crimes per
capita in Los Angeles County, 2
in property crimes per capita in Los Angeles County,
in violent crimes in California and 22
nationally in violent crimes for cities of
similar population size (150,000 to 200,000 population)”.
According to the 2006 Uniform Crime Report statistics, Pomona exceeds the per
capita averages for criminal activity over other cities in the Los Angeles County.
Pomona has the highest crime rate in Los Angeles County with 4,181 per 100,000
population. Pomona exceeds even the City of Los Angeles which has a crime rate of
3,850 per 100,000 population. Pomona is ranked second in violent crimes with 789 per
100,000 population; this is compared to the City of Los Angeles with 820 per 100,000
Pomona’s crime concerns are connected to the demographics of Pomona, Pomona
has over 40,000 households with a 16.2% poverty rate. According to the Community
Disadvantage Index, Pomona rates between a 9 and 10 consistently.
CDI Index GIS Map for Pomona 2000
Is Crime Happening in the Park?
City officials are the first to admit that the City of Pomona has significant crime
issues which they relate to high poverty rates and gang activity. However, just because
the perception of the city as a whole is bad does not mean that the parks themselves have
crime issues. Looking at the Crime Watch Maps provided by the City allows people to
see the types of crimes being committed in each area over a thirty day period.
Pomona Crime Watch Map for May 2011
This chart shows the crimes committed in the area around the parks over a thirty day time
period in May 2011.
Looking at these six different parks and the types of crimes being committed in
the area around the park, then making a comparison to the crime happening in the rest of
the city proves that little to no crime is happening in Pomona’s Parks. The parks with the
higher crime rates for the surrounding areas are located in the poorer areas of Pomona
following Harnik’s criteria that safer parks are in good locations and away from poverty.
Ralph Welch Park
Phillips Ranch Park
The City of Pomona is working hard to break the perception that its city and its
parks are dangerous places. The city has renamed “Cherrieville” and “Sharkie” Park.
“Cherrieville” is now Hamilton Park and “Sharkie” Park had been renamed Madison Park
and is now named Ted Greene Park.
The city has implemented new actions intended to prevent crimes in the parks. An
example of these prevention efforts are purposed plans to remove doors from stalls in the
park bathrooms. The idea behind removing the doors is that without the availability to
hide behind a closed door less people will be brave enough to commit crimes that could
easily be seen and therefore exposed.
In order to keep the park amenities looking nice and to prevent future vandalizing
of park property, the city has implemented a Graffiti removal team that removes all
graffiti within 48 hours. When the graffiti is removed quickly it keeps the park looking
nice and lowers the chances of future graffiti occurring. Keeping up such amenities meets
Harnik’s standard regarding the presence of park amenities.
The city also offers youth and senior citizen programs at some of the parks. An
example of a positive city program is one which serves senior citizens lunch at Palomares
Park. The city has also developed a Youth and Family Master Plan which encourages
residents to become involved in their community through participation in events held at
the parks and in other community events all of which are intended to make the city of
Pomona a safer place to live. These youth and senior citizen programs also pass Harnik’s
standard for park’s providing positive programs.
The city has also encouraged Neighborhood Watch Programs and has set up a
telephone line dedicated to a We Tip program whereby anonymous callers can report
crimes. Encouraging the people of Pomona to take control of their neighborhoods and
parks is intended to make them feel safer and to provide them an opportunity to report
criminal activity to the police without fear of gang retaliation.
The city encourages large amount of users by allowing the parks to be rented out
for parties and other celebrations. Many of the park’s also host little league teams and
other sport activities which bring in large numbers of park users. This large amount of
users also passed Harnik’s criteria for a safe park.
However, due to budget cuts the city park system cannot afford to pay for park
security personnel. In this aspect the city of Pomona parks fail Harnik’s criteria for
having uniformed personnel at the parks in order to make the parks safe. The parks do
however require that large parties renting park space hire their own security guards to
maintain control and to prevent unwanted party guests from causing problems.
Overall, the parks of Pomona are heavily used and the people who use the parks
feel safe. There are exceptions to the rules of perception and even to Harnik’s criteria for
what makes a park safe. An exception can be seen with Cesar Chavez Park. Cesar Chavez
Park was built in a poor neighborhood and most people who work with the parks figured
it would be vandalized and trashed. The reality of the park is that is has been kept clean
and is one of the nicer parks in Pomona. The experience of this park exemplifies the
Broken Windows Theory, which theorizes that “monitoring and maintaining urban
environments in a well ordered condition may prevent vandalism as well as an escalation
into more serious crime.” This theory supports the idea that when an area looks nice the
public is prone to want to keep the area looking nice and is more likely to help prevent
future crimes from occurring. In this manner Caser Chavez Park has brought its
neighborhood a sense of pride and community.
Making a Better Pomona
Throughout my research for this project I found it very difficult to find
information on the crimes occurring in Pomona’s Parks. Pomona Police only keep
records of crimes which occur in a larger general area and which do not specify where the
crimes actually occur. Cheryl Huber’s book Tracking Crime in New York City Parks
address the very issue of how Police Departments do not keep accurate records of crimes
happening in New York City Parks. New York City has a similar history to Pomona.
Both cities were perceived as being one of the most dangerous United States cities to live
in. However, different from Pomona, New York has recently been able to turn its image
around. Huber applauds New York’s efforts to turn around the city’s safety concerns but
criticizes the city’s poor record keeping for crimes happening in the city’s parks. Huber
Data collection is a vital step toward crime prevention, helping to ensure the efficient
deployment of resources to improve safety. Without this crucial information, the public is uninformed
and the NYPD and the Parks Department are less able to efficiently and effectively
address safety issues”. This is true for the city of Pomona as well. If the Police
Department kept accurate records of what crimes were being committed specifically in
the parks they would be able to prevent and respond to those crimes more efficiently.
Allowing those records to be accessed by the public allows the public to determine
whether or not a park is safe; it allows the pubic to be more aware of the kinds of crimes
occurring in the parks and would allow them to prepare for such crimes. For e
most crimes happen after five o’clock pm users of the park will know not to stay in the
park past five o’clock. Huber states that “
Global Positioning Systems (GPS) devices, which
can pinpoint an exact location on a digital map, offer one simple way of locating crimes.” This type of
system can be used to track crimes occurring in Pomona’s parks. According to Huber “One crucial
objective of tracking crime in parks is that the data be made public, with the
understanding that public awareness leads to increased safety and greater accountability.
The Parks Department should ensure that park users are informed.” By making these
records readily available we will be able to use resources more appropriately in order to
create cleaner and safer parks for all to use. This is a huge improvement the City of
Pomona can make in order to improve the park’s perception and safety.
Pomona has a history filled with violent gangs, crime, and poverty. The city is
still facing these serious issues today. However, the city and its residents are working
hard to turn their city around. One perception that has been created through Pomona’s
history is that its parks are unsafe for users because they are infested with gangs, drugs,
graffiti, and violence. However, after researching the crime occurring in the area
surrounding the six parks located in the Pomona city districts, I concluded that little to no
crime actually occurs in the parks compared to the rest of the city.
According to Harnik’s criteria of what makes a safe park, most of Pomona’s parks
failed criteria regarding good location, a location free from poverty, and uniformed
personnel criteria. However, the parks passed the rest of Harnik’s criteria regarding
neighborhood institutions, presence of park amenities, youth programs, and large number
of park users.
Overall, despite Pomona’s poverty issues I feel that perceptions that Pomona’s
parks are dangerous places is invalid as long as the parks are used properly and there is
observance of park and city rules and laws. Caser Chavez Park proved that there are
exceptions to Harnik’s criteria proving that a park located in a poor, poverty stricken
location can still be a center of community pride and safe place to be enjoyed and used by
The city of Pomona still has a long way to go in order to turn around poor
perceptions of the city. One way to continue such progress would be to keep more
specific and accurate reports and provide more accessible public records that keep track
of the crimes being committed in the parks. By allowing these records the public can see
what crimes are being committed and whether or not crime is decreasing in the parks
thereby better assuring the public that city parks are safer places to visit.
The City of Pomona is no different than other cities in terms of crime. New York
City had its share of crime problems especially in their parks. However, through
implementing programs which provide more specific public information regarding crime
records for park locations, perceptions regarding New York parks has turned around.
Pomona has an opportunity to become a great city, full of pride and community
awareness. There is no better place to bring a community together than at a city park.
Positive park activities and experiences provide hope for a better future. Turning around
negative perceptions concerning Pomona’s parks is the first step towards creating a
sustainable, positive, hopeful community in the city of Pomona.
Andre Rico-Youth and Family Service Manager
Google Images. Retrieved on June 1, 2011.
Harnick,P. (2006). What Makes it Great and How to Get There: The Excellent
City Park System. Trust for Public Land.
Huber, C. (2007). Tracking Crime in New York City Parks. New York: New
Yorkers for Parks.
Inland Valley Daily Bulletin. (2004). Gangland: A look at Gangs in Southern California.
Retrieved on May, 20 2011 from
McCormick, J (2007). Better Park Design can Prevent Crime. National
Recreation and Park Association.
Pomona Police Crime Watch. Retrieved on June 1, 2011 from
(2009). Pomona Profile. Retrieved on April 18, 2011, from
Download 81.12 Kb.
Do'stlaringiz bilan baham:
ma'muriyatiga murojaat qiling