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Police and the Reclamation of Public Places: A Study of MacArthur Park in Los Angeles

NCJ Number
International Journal of Police Science and Management Volume: 12 Issue: 1 Dated: Spring 2010 Pages: 41-54
William H. Sousa; George L. Kelling
Date Published
14 pages

This paper explores an initiative by the Los Angeles Police Department to reduce crime and drug trafficking at a downtown public park.


Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, MacArthur Park - a 40-acre public park located near downtown Los Angeles - was widely known to be one of the largest open-air drug markets in Los Angeles. The Alvarado Corridor Initiative, a police-led initiative developed in 2003, was designed to address crime and disorderly behavior in MacArthur Park through a combination of problem-solving, order-maintenance, and situational crime prevention efforts. This paper assesses the impact of the Alvarado Corridor Initiative using information from interviews and focus groups with neighborhood residents, business people, police officers, and other individuals familiar with MacArthur Park. The results suggest that many of the problems in MacArthur Park have been resolved and that the park experienced a turnaround that can be linked to the implementation of the Alvarado Corridor Initiative. In assessing the effectiveness of the Alvarado Corridor Initiative, this paper also provides a commentary on the evolution of public places in the United States and the role that the police can serve in terms of helping to preserve those public places. Figure, table, notes, and references (Published Abstract)