For Los Angeles, it was a good summer.
In many cities, the summer months often bring an increase in crime. No school and longer days mean that troubled youth, such as gang members, have more time to indulge in criminal activity. Los Angeles Mayor Antonia Villaraigosa decided that the summer of 2008 would be different for his city.
To curtail violent crime and gang activity, Mayor Villaraigosa unveiled an anti-gang program known as the Summer Night Lights program. According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, the program ran from the Fourth of July to Labor Day in communities where gang activity was most prevalent. According to the Times, the program "offered special movie nights and other youth- and family-oriented events until midnight four nights a week, the peak time for gang activity and other juvenile-related crime."
The program proved to be a success, with a 17 percent drop in violent crime and an incredible 86 percent decline in homicides. It's programs like these that prove community involvement with local law enforcement is an effective way to deter crime and create safer neighborhoods. The National Crime Prevention Council is highlighting this exact concept through its new Celebrate Safe Communities initiative, which will take place October 2-4 in commemoration of Crime Prevention Month.
Crime prevention is everyone's job. When we all work together, good things can happen. I'd like to see programs like Summer Night Lights become more than just a seasonal initiative. Just think about how much safer neighborhoods could be if communities nationwide worked together with law enforcement to create year-round programs and community events.