Parks: How to Build Your Own Safe and Secure Parks Initiative

Thursday, January 25 | 9:50 - 11:05a.m.

Session Description:
This workshop will outline the ongoing process utilized in Olympia to create the Safe and Secure Parks Initiative. It will provide participants with the knowledge base and inspiration to create their own initiative aimed at dealing with societal issues and illicit behaviors that are impacting our public park systems everywhere.

Need for Session:
Over the last decade, public parks and facilities have experienced a dramatic increase in illicit behaviors which threaten the safety and security of our patrons and employees. These behaviors are tied to a challenging web of deeply rooted societal issues related to substance abuse, reduced support for mental health, and homelessness. Although the root causes of these issues are well beyond the scope of providing parks and recreation services, our departments are often overwhelmed as we attempt to manage the unintended impacts of these societal problems in our park systems.

The perception of our parks is paramount to our success. If our citizens do not perceive our parks and facilities as a safe environment, they will not use them. If they do not use our parks and facilities, they will not value them and we will lose critical support on all levels. In response, the Olympia Parks, Arts & Recreation Department created a Safe and Secure Parks Initiative to address this growing threat to our park system.

Paul Simmons, City of Olympia
Sylvana Niehuser, City of Olympia