As part of an effort to improve community relations after the Rodney G. King beating, the Los Angeles Police Department announced Friday it will coordinate a litter and graffiti cleanup in the San Fernando Valley next Saturday.
Operation Sparkle will include removing litter and painting over graffiti at 30 Valley locations. Valley police stations will field calls from residents interested in volunteering their time.
On the day of the event, police will act as crew leaders and perform larger tasks such as carting away abandoned furniture and impounding cars.
"That us-and-them thing has got to stop," said Deputy Chief Mark A. Kroeker, who became commanding officer of the Valley operations three days after the King incident. "When the officers and the community get together on issues like this, you break down barriers, you build relationships."
Kroeker said he was surprised by the level of interest in Operation Sparkle, which the Police Department hopes will attract 3,000 volunteers. Already, more than 200 people have offered to help, he said. Paint stores have donated 2,000 gallons of paint and a grocery store has donated food for picnics that will follow the cleanup at five Valley parks.
During a news conference at City Hall on Friday afternoon, Mayor Tom Bradley and five City Council members said they hoped the cleanup would become a regular event in the Valley and elsewhere. Although smaller, neighborhood cleanups occur regularly, Bradley said this would be "the first time that such a massive program is being conducted."
Kroeker said he plans to schedule Valley cleanups every three or four months. Operation Sparkle II is set for October, he said.