SIOUX FALLS -

It doesn't seem that long ago that Sioux Falls parks like Van Eps and Heritage were a breeding ground for disorderly conduct.

But over the last couple years, city departments said they've been working to combat the uptick in crime.

Those extra efforts have paid off.

"We know that our call volume is way down at Heritage Park, Van Eps Park and Tower Park and our citations are down," said Sioux Falls Police Chief Matt Burns.

Burns says that's all because of an effort from community leaders to engage the neighborhood through extra patrolling.

By designating four police officers to work directly with the city park system, Chief Burns said that issues from aggravated assaults to drinking in public have slid down over the past couple of years.

"These things don't happen in a vacuum. This happens because we've had a proactive effort," said Burns. "We've worked together as a Parks Team, with the police team, with community development and we engaged the neighbors."

Officers met with neighbors and community members to hone in on the issues that are important.

This, Mayor Mike Huether said, is driving crime in the parks down and making them a safe space for families and kids, alike.

"We're tracking things like assaults and issues in our parks and right now, they're at a level that we're really really proud about," said Huether.

Instead of police officers getting called to the scene, Huether and Burns said that now the majority of the police calls to the parks were initiated by the officers themselves, who recognized a problem beforehand.

Chief Burns says police have received around 120 calls to city parks this year -- down from more than 300 in 2015. And the city has collected nearly 170 beer and liquor bottles in Heritage Park over the last few months, compared to more than 550 during that same time frame last year.