MODESTO (CBS13) – Modesto city leaders are looking at a new way to keep city parks clean and safe for families.
The city council approved Tuesday evening to hire city park rangers to patrol parks.
Like so many other communities, city leaders say they've seen an increase in homelessness and illegal activities in the areas.
"When it's dark, there will be like a lot of homeless people walking around," said Gilbert Corona.
The city wants to crackdown on people visiting parks afterhours while enforcing camping and public drinking ordinances.
It's adopting the idea of hiring park rangers through a pilot program, which would last 18 months.
People off and on camera said they liked the idea.
"Yeah, wouldn't you?" asked Chris Sciaroni. "I mean, people bring their children out. They want to feel safe and secure."
CBS13 is getting answers on how the plan works.
While the rangers would work closely with the Parks, Recreation and Neighborhoods Dept., they are police employees but they would not be permitted to carry weapons.
Enforcement is only half the job.
The city said the rangers will also educate people about regulations and pass out information about resources to unhoused people in some of the city's troubled parks, such as Cesar Chavez, Enslen and Graceada.
"Graceada Park – when my daughter was little – was beautiful, great to take her there then it started getting really bad," Luis Velasco said.
Breanna Horgan grew up in the city and reminisced how the parks used to be as a child.
"It's just really gone downhill. A lot of homeless people live in the parks now," she said. "A lot of people do drugs there. It's really heartbreaking to see."
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