OXNARD — Hoping to stop gang violence at local soccer games, City Council members on Tuesday approved a plan to step up police patrols at Del Sol Park and other La Colonia recreation spots.
Soccer players at the Del Sol Park have been attacked or threatened by gang members at least six times this year, according to police. Other neighborhood locations, such as Colonia Park and Colonia Gym, have also been disrupted by gang violence, said city officials.
The City Council approved a transfer of $30,000 from the Housing Authority, which sponsors the youth soccer games at Del Sol Park, to the Police Department. Officials said the money will be used to pay for placing at least one officer at Del Sol during the popular soccer matches, which attract up to 700 players from across Ventura County on weekends.
"The residents are concerned," said Police Chief Harold Hurtt. "They want their neighborhood to be as safe as any neighborhood in the city."
Residents have already taken the initiative to make youth recreation areas in La Colonia safer, launching a Neighborhood Watch program earlier this year.
While none of the gang attacks has resulted in serious injury, city officials said increased police presence is necessary to make sure the fistfights do not escalate.
Council members approved the $30,000 expenditure by a 5-0 vote. The money will pay for three months of increased patrols, after which officials will take another look at the issue.