Evans – a 17-year department veteran – said their presence may help to improve the image of local police. “People feel like cops arrest, arrest, arrest,” she said. “We’re here to hear citizens’ needs. ? They think we’re not approachable, but we are.” The police department divided the city into three sections horizontally along Rosecrans Avenue and Redondo Beach Boulevard. Each district has its own command staff responsible for the area. Included in this new model is a stronger emphasis on community relations and a charge to respond to all sorts of problems in the city, including abandoned cars, standing water on the street, and trash bins left in disarray. Lt. Mike Saffell said, though police work is usually focused on serious crimes, police recognize that residents are usually more concerned about quality-of-life issues. “Most complaints are about parking, nuisances,” Saffell said. “As you develop more relationships with residents, more of that information comes – graffiti, transients, speeding, loitering. We try to get to as many as we can.” Messina said he has gotten an increase in complaints about abandoned cars and cars speeding through stop signs since district policing in the city started. He said that taking these complaints seriously generates more work for him, but he is happy to do it. “I think it’s more satisfying because you get a reputation for improving the community,” he said. “You’re not just fining them and taking them to jail.” Five-year-old Leia Schafer seemed to appreciate the police park program Sunday morning at Mas Fukai Park. While she visited the playground there with her mother and four stuffed animals, officer Evans handed her police badge stickers. She promptly stuck them on the chests and backs of her stuffed dogs and cats, explaining that the toys were a family. She attached a badge sticker to one stuffed dog she named Big Gus, explaining, “Because he’s a protector dog.” [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! OUTREACH: Police want feedback from residents about crime, quality-of-life worries. By Sandy Mazza STAFF WRITER Gardena police officer Brian Messina’s workweek was marked by a high-speed chase and investigating several house burglaries – but he spent a slow Sunday afternoon in the city’s sunny parks. In a push to forge closer, friendlier ties with residents, the department’s new policing structure – implemented in July – includes a directive to improve community relations. That’s how Messina, whose passion is arresting car theft suspects, and officer Yvette Evans wound up working overtime in the parks this weekend. Police officers will be in city parks every weekend through November, hoping to get feedback from residents about their crime and quality-of-life concerns. The temporary program, called Cop in the Park, has been promoted at City Hall and the schedule is on the city’s Web site, but has not drawn large crowds. No residents had complaints or concerns for Evans or Messina on Sunday. The officers spent the day handing out stickers and free water bottles to kids. They also scared off a group of people smoking marijuana cigarettes at Thornburg Park, helped a teenager with a basketball injury, and discussed stuffed animals with a young girl at Mas Fukai park.