Parks After Dark (PAD) is an innovative Los Angeles County (County) strategy for building resilient communities that re-envisions parks as community hubs. PAD began in 2010 as the prevention strategy of the County's Gang Violence Reduction Initiative, and has since evolved into a key County prevention and intervention strategy, promoting health, safety, equity, and family and community well-being. PAD has been adopted into the strategic plans of several County departments and initiatives. PAD is led by the County Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR), in partnership with the County Board of Supervisors, Chief Executive Office (CEO), Department of Public Health (DPH), Sheriff's Department (LASD), Probation Department, and many other government agencies and community organizations. PAD extends hours of park operation during summer weekend evenings, in unincorporated communities of Los Angeles County, and offers a variety of free activities and resources for people of all ages in a safe and welcoming space. PAD includes recreational activities (e.g., sports clinics, exercise classes, walking clubs and aquatics programming), entertainment (e.g., concerts, movies, and talent shows), arts and educational programs (e.g., arts and crafts, computer classes, and cultural programs), teen clubs and activities, and resource fairs. Additionally, Deputy Sheriffs patrol the parks to ensure safety during PAD and participate in activities with community members. While PAD began as a summer strategy, there is significant interest and evidence to support expanding this model to utilize parks year-round to promote health and well-being and provide violence prevention and intervention services to high need communities. Proponents see the potential of PAD to transform park spaces into community centers and a hub for services to meet the priorities of various County departments and initiatives. The program started in 2010 in three parks and was subsequently expanded in 2012 to six parks, in 2015 to nine parks, in 2016 to 21 parks, and in 2017 to 23 parks throughout Los Angeles County. UCLA Center for Health Policy Research (UCLA) conducted a process and outcome evaluation of PAD in 2017. The evaluation questions are aligned with the following PAD goals: (1) Increase access to quality recreational programming and innovative services; (2) Increase collaboration among different stakeholders; (3) Decrease community violence and increase perception of safety; (4) Increase physical activity, and decrease chronic disease risk; (5) Increase social cohesion and family bonding; and (6) Achieve cost savings. Data for the 2017 evaluation included PAD participant surveys, LASD and Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) crime data, program implementation data from DPR, Census data, photos and stories provided by park staff and PAD participants, and key informant interviews with the PAD Coordinator and DPH PAD Lead. Throughout this report, outcomes for PAD parks are examined according to the year PAD started at each park, as indicated below. In addition, a number of parks with similar characteristics (e.g., park facilities necessary to host PAD, high assault rates, and obesity prevalence) were selected as comparison parks for assessment of PAD"s impact on crime. Exhibit 2 outlines the individual parks included in each group for crime analysis.
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