Police Cracking Down On Close Contact

Photos by Mitch Lehman / The Review
Responding to concerns from local residents, the South Pasadena Police Department has increased the frequency of patrols at South Pasadena Middle School and Garfield Park, where young people have congregated for games of basketball and flag football.

Responding to concerns from residents, South Pasadena Police officers have stepped up patrols in the city’s parks and on school campuses. The action followed several incidents of young people congregating at South Pasadena Middle School and Garfield Park to participate in basketball and flag football games, which is in violation of the county’s “Safer at Home” guidelines.
One report referenced a flag football game at Garfield Park that took place on Friday, March 27, and included both young people and adults. Gates to the basketball courts behind South Pasadena Middle School have been locked and yellow caution tape has been threaded through the perimeter fencing. However, local residents say the fence can be easily “jumped” to gain access.
“South Pasadena Police officers are proactively patrolling our city streets and spending a lot of time in the areas where folks congregate,” said Rachel McGuire, the city’s interim public information officer. “The South Pasadena Police Dept. is currently in contact with the school district about kids playing basketball and football at the middle school.”
“When we do find kids out there, we are getting names and phone numbers and are calling their parents,” added South Pasadena Police Chief Joe Ortiz. “We are trying to stay away from the enforcement angle and make it about education. But I get it, kids are kids and they want to get outside.”
Ortiz has had an initial conversation with the SPUSD to see if the baskets can be removed on a temporary basis.
In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the South Pasadena Unified School District closed its campuses on March 16 through May 4. However, in a March 17 press conference, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state’s schools “will likely be closed for the remainder of the school year amid the coronavirus pandemic.”
In a similar move, the city of Pasadena on Sunday evening closed the Rose Bowl loop to bikers and pedestrians to discourage close contact. Medical professionals suggest a buffer of at least 6 feet to discourage the spread of the virus.
According to the March 31 report from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, there were six confirmed cases of COVID-19 in South Pasadena. More information is available at southpasadenaca.gov.