Watts Pool Reopens After Violence

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Los Angeles recreation and parks officials are hoping to head off security problems at the public pool on 109th street in Watts with more police and neighborhood patrols. KPCC's Molly Peterson reports on the city's plans.

Sound of a kid yelling for his friend, and swimming and splashing]

Molly Peterson: Classic summer sounds, a couple dozen kids cooling off, mostly in the shallow end, returned to Watts when the city of Los Angeles reopened the neighborhood's public pool.

Days before, a couple of dozen young men overran the facility and threw the manager in the water. Councilwoman Janice Hahn, whose district includes Watts, said the city is tripling security staff, and boosting police patrols to maintain control ofthe pool.

Janice Hahn: Nothing is worse, anywhere, but particularly in Watts, in a hot summer, than having a pool that's closed down because a bunch of thugs decided to come in here on Sunday and ruin this experience for all of our kids.

Peterson: But LAPD officials also described the added security presence as temporary. Councilwoman Hahn and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa emphasized that neighbors are responsible for reclaiming territory from the gangs they suspect are responsible for last week's incidents. Watts Gang Task Force member Betty Day said she and others are ready if the young men come back.

Betty Day: You are not going to run anybody off. We're here for the duration. Find somewhere else to go.

Peterson: Day and other task force members say they plan to have someone watching the pool every day until September.