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Chicago police adding additional evening patrols to 20 parks

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Chicago police say they're adding additional evening patrols to some 20 parks around the city that have been identified as high crime areas.

Police won't say which parks are getting additional protection, but the idea is to encourage Chicago families to make greater use of park district programs by making the parks safer.

It's been almost seven weeks since a late night shooting at Cornell Square Park on the South Side injured 13 people, including a 3-year-old boy. Six suspects have been arrested. Now, police say they've highlighted 20 Chicago Parks where crime merits an additional police presence.

"The Cornell Park shooting, that didn't trigger this," Tracy says. "It's just one more strategy where we had additional funding, working together with the parks department, how could we use this more effectively."

The additional funding comes from the Chicago Park District, which will be forking over $250,000 for the remainder of this year and $4 million next year, to cover the police overtime. Each of the 20 parks will get two additional officers, patrolling for four hours every evening, which hopefully will encourage use of park district programs.

"For those four hours, we want to make sure that nothing's going on in those parks, and it makes it safer for the community," Chicago Police Chief Robert Tracy explains. "The enrollment of the programs that they're looking to get into, is going to go up, that's what our idea is."

Residents we talked with all believed the more police, the better.

"You never can get enough of police officers," resident Latoya Wade says. "Too many babies. Babies dying, kids dying, you can't get enough of no cops."

When asked if he thinks the parks are safe now, resident Justin Figgers says, "No, not really, but they probably will work if you add more policemen."

"Most kids don't feel safe in the summer because of the shooting and killing that goes on," adds resident Christopher Harris. "So, I think it'd be a great idea."

Chief Tracy says that as the targeted parks become safer, the department will be able to deploy more resources in other neighborhoods where help is needed.

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