The City of Fresno is beefing up security at its public parks.
A private firm has been hired to patrol and keep parks safe overnight.
Officials say the need for stepped-up patrols at our local parks was putting too much stress on Fresno PD so the city is dedicating tens of thousands of dollars a year to make sure parks are safe and secure overnight.
It's a common issue for cities similar to Fresno - keeping public parks secure when the sun goes down and criminal behavior is more likely to occur.
According to Councilmember Garry Bredefeld -- the city's two most popular parks, Woodward and Roeding, have become a haven for homeless encampments and illegal activity.
"We don't want any of that so now on a 24-hour basis during the day the police will be in. And overnight we have a private security firm that we spent $65k to ensure 10 at night to 6 in the morning seven days a week they will be operating, making sure the park is safe." Bredefeld said.
City workers say they trim trees and bushes to try to discourage people from hiding at the parks but it still isn't enough.
That's why Falcon Private Security was brought in to patrol Woodward and Roeding overnight and secure the gates.
Officials believe this will help cut down on crime while it'll free up police officers.
"The police wanted this they know they can be elsewhere and now we have people to make sure the park is safe - it's clean, people aren't setting up encampments and there's not drug activity going on overnight. It's a win-win for everybody," Bredefeld added.
Falcon Security has been in business for over 16 years and agrees to a three-year $65k contract with Fresno that will be paid for through the city's general fund.
The private firm says they have at least six trained officers dedicated to the parks.
"In addition also our supervisor our night operational manager patrol the parks in addition to the officer over there the patrol officer," said Michael Safwat, CEO of Falcon Security.
Officials say they average about 10 incidents a month overnight but know calls are expected to increase once the weather warms up.
Now, private security guards will patrol Fresno parks overnight