The Safe Parks Unit
The Safe Parks Unit Officer uses crime prevention and deterrent techniques such as CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design)
to enhance the safety and quality of our existing and future parks. He or she is also responsible for managing the Live-on Park Security Program, which allows members of law enforcement to reside on-site while providing security as needed. The Parks Officer also serves as a member of the City of Jacksonville's Parks and Recreation team.
The Parks Officer proactively patrols parks in a variety of vehicles and on foot, conducts investiga
tions, follows up on complaints and tips, utilizes surveillance systems, analyzes crime data, and partners with patrol officers and detectives to reduce criminal activity and the fear of crime while improving the safety of our park system.
Photo caption: The newly renovated Friendship Fountain. Photo taken by: retired Police Officer Laurie McEwen
About The Parks
Jacksonville has the largest park system in the United States with nearly 400 parks, totaling approximately 125 square miles. Unique features and amenities include oceanfront parks with driving allowed on the beach, overnight camping and cabin rentals, historically significant preservation sites, equestrian trails, indoor walking tracks, skateboarding facilities, a BMX bicycle track, a go-kart track, a marina with utilities, 34 swimming pools including an indoor Olympic-sized heated pool, and a planned waterpark. (See City of Recreation and Community Programming for more information)
The Safe Parks Unit was initially established in late 2004 based on recommendations by Mayor Peyton’s Task Force on Parks. One veteran police officer, Officer L. A. McEwen, was assigned to the Recreation and Community Services Department to serve as the critical link between the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, RCS and community members. With her expertise in crime prevention programs, community policing initiatives, investigative skills and rapport with community members, she was able to quickly establish partnerships with RCS staff members, National and State Park Services, and develop trusted relationships within the community.
In 2007, the Safe Parks Officer position was secured by the Council’s vote to modify Municipal Ordinance 28.103(g) to require that one officer is assigned to RCS under the direct supervision of the Director of Recreation and Community Programming, but remain under the command of the Sheriff.
Links And Resources
Liaisons to the City of Jacksonville Parks
Main Number - (904) 255-7900
Community Affairs Division - (904) 630-2160