Breaking News
More () »

Phoenix considering overnight security at 8 parks to combat 'trespassing'

The city found the most common code of conduct violations included shopping carts at parks and trespassing.

PHOENIX — The discussion for a plan to enhance security at certain City of Phoenix parks was pushed back Wednesday after City Council decided to cut the issue off its agenda for the second time this month.

The proposal is to enhance overnight security at parks with a high number of Code of Conduct violations, including shopping carts and trespassing.  The pilot program would include eight parks with the highest number of violations, according to the council agenda:

  • Cortez Park
  • Washington Park
  • Pierce Park
  • Cielito Park
  • El Oso Park
  • Perry Park
  • Desert West Park
  • Maryvale Park

The I-Team has extensively profiled concerns at one of these sites: Perry Park, near 32nd Street and Thomas Road. The park has also been dubbed a hotspot for people experiencing homelessness.

RELATED: ‘Building housing isn't a quick process’: Phoenix weighs in on millions in COVID relief money for homelessness that hasn’t been spent

"The city is very pathetic when it comes to the homelessness crisis," said Phoenix City Councilmember Sal DiCiccio in an interview Thursday.

DiCiccio is in favor of additional security. The proposal was originally discussed in a council meeting on Oct. 5. When it was dropped from that agenda, DiCiccio and three other council members asked to get it on Wednesday's agenda.  At the beginning of the session, 12News learned that the matter was dropped again.

"If we have a private security company come out, they’ll at least be able to address them, talk to them about it, and if they choose not to move, then they can call the police on it," DiCiccio said, referring to anyone who might be trespassing.  

He also pointed to a shortage of police officers, which could impact oversight at city parks.

"It’s a way of de-escalating it and not treating it where you’re going to be arresting individuals right away, but people have got to start complying," DiCiccio said.

Other council members want to hold off on the discussion before getting more information from the Parks and Recreation Department.  

A city Parks and Rec spokesperson declined an interview Thursday and said over email they "likely won’t be speaking on the matter until after it’s discussed more or voted on."

The agenda details that the Parks and Rec Department started collecting data on violations through ranger logs in June 2022.  From June to August 2022, the agenda details that park rangers issued 58 trespassing notices and, in other cases, had to issue verbal warnings if they saw a violation. 

The city said rangers provide park cover from 4 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week. The agenda also states that the city has had challenges filling park ranger vacancies.

"I’m all in favor of increasing compensation to see if we can entice people to come work for the city," said Councilwoman Debra Stark.

Stark is also in favor of expanding security. Security services are already being used at Civic Space, Hance and Heritage Square Parks, according to the council agenda.

"Eventually, we’re going to staff up with police," Stark said. "We’re going to have more park rangers, and we might not need security. But right now, we need something."

Some council members said the discussion is expected to be on the agenda in November.

Councilmembers Garcia, Guardado, and Vice Mayor Pastor were not available for interviews. Councilmembers Waring and Ansari did not respond to requests for comment.

Councilwoman O'Brien's Office sent the following statement:

Our parks are the cornerstones of our neighborhoods and communities. They are where kids play in little league tournaments, where family reunions are held under ramadas, and where teenagers play pick-up games of basketball. Our parks are where our community members gather, and they must be safe for everyone. Our community members have been requesting additional support in our parks and yesterday’s item would have provided that. Cortez Park, per the Parks Department’s criteria, has the highest need for afterhours security monitoring. My community members are begging for additional help in Cortez Park so they may feel safe walking their dogs, exercising, and hanging out with friends and family. Ultimately, the decision was made to postpone the vote to November 2nd in order to ensure the Parks Department and City Management are able to develop a solution that does not require us to revisit the issue at a later date. I am confident we will be presented a solution our Phoenix families will be excited to see implemented and help to make our parks safe again.


Learn more about other 12News investigations by subscribing to the 12News YouTube channel and watching our I-Team playlist. 

Before You Leave, Check This Out