Crime drops as city parks stay open late: Villaraigosa touts Summer Nights Lights program

In a year where Los Angeles was looking to cut everything that wasn't necessary, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa chose to take a stand behind a small program that makes a big difference in out neighborhoods.

The Summer Nights Lights program keeps parks open at night - until midnight four nights a week from July 7 to Sept. 4. But that's not all. The program hires staff to coach, teach and umpire, provides jerseys and even feeds families.

The bottom line:

Gang-related crime is down 40%
Gang-related homicides are down 57%
And shots fired are down 55%

Other benefits include exercise, obesity reduction, education.

The 24 Summer NIghts Lights sites attracted 710,000 people, served 382,000 free meals and provieded 1000 summer jobs for youth.

LA Times reporter David Zahniser reported Villaraigosa secured $2.1 million in private contributions, mostly from philanthropic foundations, for Summer Nights Lights, including gifts from the Weingart Foundation and the Wells Fargo Foundation.

Crime in Los Angeles is at its lowest level in 40 years.

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