Someone whacked the Man with the Yellow Hat.
Well, not really, but that was the hook homicide detectives used to encourage people to check out its booth at the Anaheim PD’s National Night Out event on Tuesday, Aug. 7.
Children and adults got to play junior detective as they looked for clues around the tape silhouette of Curious George’s human pal.
The remnants of an eaten banana were near the silhouette.
There were bike tire tracks, indicating how the perp escaped.
And there were handprints throughout the scene.
Wait, were they human handprints?
“Do they look normal?” Det. Julissa Trapp asked Gabrielle Garcia, 11, as she studied the crime scene.
Or were they possibly the prints of…a suddenly malevolent monkey?
Say it ain’t so, George.
The APD Homicide Unit’s booth was among several dozen set up around Eucalyptus Park for the annual event, which educates the public about various aspects of the PD, as well as Anaheim Fire & Rescue, and also provides crime-prevention strategies.
Over 38 million people in 16,000 communities throughout the United States took place in this year’s National Night Out, the 35th annual running.
“National Night Out is the night (when) citizens across America send a powerful message about neighborhood unity, awareness and safety,” said Anaheim PD’s new police chief, Jorge Cisneros, who on Tuesday was just four days into his job.
“National Night Out is designed to heighten crime and drug-prevention awareness, generate support and participation in crime-prevention programs, strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships,” Cisneros said in brief remarks to attendees, just before the ever-popular K9 demonstration began.
“National Night Out sends a message to all individuals that the City of Anaheim will not tolerate crime,” Cisneros said.
Added the new chief: “I want to thank the citizens of Anaheim and the men and women of the department for welcoming me with open arms, and I look forward to working with all of you.”
As pop tunes blared from loudspeakers, attendees spent time touring the APD’s SWAT vehicle, checked out a helicopter that is part of the agency’s Angel fleet, tested their skills in a shoot/don’t shoot scenario trailer, and met human and equine members of the mounted unit.
Many enjoyed ice cream, including Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait.
“Our police officers are here to serve the community, and oftentimes the community doesn’t really know exactly what they do,” Tait said after polishing off a cool treat. “On a very basic level, this event helps (illustrate) what police officers do, and I also think it brings some appreciation for the difficult job they do.
“It also connects the police officers to the community so they understand what (the community’s) concerns are,” Tait added. “So much of this is about creating trust between the community and the police department. We’re all in this together. This creates strength and resiliency on both sides.”
During the three-hour event, three Anaheim neighborhood leaders were presented with a National Night Out Block Captain’s Award.
Block captains are neighborhood watch leaders who liaison with the PD and the community. Receiving awards Tuesday evening were Rita Gonzalez, Central District; Barbara Hershey, East District; and Samuel Francis, West District.
Elijah Medina, 5, hit several booths with his father, Marcos.
Marcos Medina learned about the event on the APD’s Instagram page.
“This event gives the kids a chance to know about the police and not to be afraid of them,” Medina said.
Outside the APD’s Community Policing booth, attendees participated in dance contests to win a piñata and other prizes.
Kids walked around with red, white and blue balloons.
And APD officers educated the public about their jobs.
“To pass training is very difficult, and pilots have to be able to think on their feet,” APD Officer and helicopter pilot Chad Meyer told a visitor.
Officer Brett Heitmann explained the different weapons he and other members of the APD SWAT team have at their disposal.
“We have many different tools, many different options, to keep people safe,” Heitmann told an onlooker, before launching into a short story about how he and his colleagues recently were able to get a barricaded man to comply after the officers used a pepper ball gun.
Ana Garcia watched as Gabrielle tried to solve the Man With the Yellow Hat homicide.
Gabrielle figured out Curious George was the culprit.
“This is a great way for (kids) to find out how they can get involved in the police department, such as through the explorers program,” Ana Garcia said of National Night Out.
“There are lots of opportunities.”