South Oak Park Residents Build Relationships with Police at National Night Out

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

OAK PARK -- As the talented tunes of the "Unsupervised" drifted over Sacramento's Jack Davis Park, families braved 104 degree heat and bad perceptions of their neighborhood to forge community in South Oak Park.

"I'm just hoping Oak Park will be the best place for me and my kids," said Desmona Stewart, a homeowner in Oak Park.

That's a renewed hope for Stewart and her 8 children. Affordable home prices have just brought her back to this community after moving away because of crime.

"Somebody broke in my house. I had little bad incidents when I lived here, so I decided to get up and move to Rancho Cordova," she said.

Others have stayed through trying times.

"One person died just right over here next to the park last year ... there's been quite a few,"  said Oak Park resident Joshua Martinez.

Since the beginning of June this year, there's been a killing, a pregnant woman shot leaving a party and five men picked up for conspiracy and running assault rifles.

But Martinez and his girlfriend feel like the area is improving.

"It's getting better. When they have events like this, it brings the community together," Martinez said.

This is National Night Out -- a party with a purpose.

Police and probation officers were getting to know the people they serve when there isn't a crisis.

Leaders of the South Oak Park Community Association know there are huge challenges.

"This part of the neighborhood doesn't really get to shine. We have illegal dumping here, we have gun violence, a lot of things, so it's good to show the community actually coming together in peace, in unity, in harmony to try to build together," said Michael Blair, president of the South Oak Park Community Association.

And build they will -- through basketball.

"Kaiser Permanente and the Kings are going to build and refurbish this half court into a full basketball court," Blair said.

Great predictions for South Oak Park in the coming month, and the team backing them...

"Really the Kings are going to do that well? Oh got it," reporter Sonseeahray Tonsall said.