The boy waited in a long line for his chance to sit on a police motorcycle and get his picture taken with an officer.
Once he sat alongside Tustin Police Sgt. Ryan Coe, the boy, George — his protective helmet in place — talked through a loudspeaker.
“I love you, mom!” George said.
Coe whispered something in his ear.
“I promise to clean my room!” George added.
His mother, Helen, laughed.
The two were among several hundred participants Tuesday in the 31st annual National Night Out. The event is designed to bring people together to focus on police-community partnerships, crime prevention, strengthen ties between neighbors, and to send a message to the criminal element that the community and law enforcement are in partnership to build a better city.
The City of Tustin held its version of the event at The District shopping center at Tustin Legacy, with the Police Department serving as host.
“This is such a great event,” Helen said. “It’s the first time we’ve done this, and my son has enjoyed seeing all the vehicles and interacting with police. We’ll definitely be back next year!”
Police agencies throughout Orange County participated in National Night Out, which provided a chance for the public to meet officers and learn more about what they do and the equipment they use.
But the night went beyond that.
“This event is about sending a message to the criminal element,” Tustin Police Chief Charles Celano said at the opening ceremony Aug. 4.
“This is not your community,” Celano said, referring to bad guys. “This community belongs to the great people of Tustin who want to enjoy time with their family (and) who want to enjoy a nice, safe place to live. Please have fun tonight, enjoy yourselves. That’s what National Night Out is all about.”
Tustin Mayor Chuck Puckett also was on hand.
“This is the 31st year that this great nation has celebrated National Night Out,” Puckett said. “I’d like to thank the Tustin Police Department, countless staff and volunteers for all your hard work and dedication. I’d also like to thank the Tustin City Council for making this all possible. In honor of that, enjoy yourselves and have a great time.
Locally, National Night Out gave citizens throughout Orange County an opportunity to communicate with law enforcement officials in a casual environment.
In Tustin, members of the department’s ’s K-9 unit and Special Enforcement Detail as well as representatives from, the Orange County Fire Authority, the United States Army, and other both public and private community groups spoke with curious citizens. There also were plenty of stations for children to enjoy, including games hosted by Police Explorers and face painting, as well as raffles with prizes.
A K9 demonstration was presented by Officer Rene Barraza and his canine partner Bravo, a Dutch Shepard. The two performed various takedown demonstrations on a fellow officer wearing protective gear.
“Bravo is able to smell a suspect faster than we can see them,” Barraza said. “He is dual trained in apprehending dangerous suspects and as a location tool. He can find a knife in two minutes when it would take us 20. He can also find 11 kilos of cocaine in the frame of a car, which he recently did in about 30 seconds.”
One of the booths on display in Tustin was filled with members of CERT (Community Emergency Response Teams), a free program that trains civilians how to respond in emergency situations.
“It’s a newer program; we’ve been around for two years now,” CERT Coordinator Joseph Meyers said. “It’s a 22-hour course, separated by Friday nights and Saturdays, where anyone who is willing can learn how to respond properly to an emergency situation and possess the tools and knowledge to be able to assist their community in the process.”
National Night Out was founded in 1984 by the National Association of Town Watch, a non-profit group. Since its inception, the event has grown in popularity, with communities across the nation coming together with their local law enforcement representatives to unite against criminal activity and make communities safer for residents and visitors.
Scroll down to see more pictures from this and other O.C. National Night Out events.
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