On Tuesday, Aug. 1, hundreds of people attended the Tustin Police Department’s Annual National Night Out at the District at Tustin Legacy.
National Night Out, an event to promote police-community partnerships, is celebrated in cities, towns and communities all across the United States. It is an opportunity to enhance the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement while bringing back a true sense of community. This year marked Tustin’s 10th anniversary of hosting a National Night Out event.
Mayor Allan Bernstein read a proclamation from the Tustin City Council commemorating the day and thanking the city’s first responders for keeping the community safe.
“This gives notice to all criminals that the citizens of Tustin are united and that they should stay out of our community,” Bernstein said.
Attendees were entertained with cover songs performed by students from School of Rock Tustin and dancers from the Tustin Dance Center. Miss Tustin Emma Foss treated the crowd to a speed-painting demonstration that ended with a glitter-filled reveal of a portrait of Princess Leia.
A highlight of the evening was a demonstration by Officers Eric Kent and Chuck Mitchell and their respective police K9s, Riggs and Kingsley. An aspiring K9 handler wearing a padded bite suit played a fleeing suspect for both dogs, who eagerly latched onto his arm with their tails wagging.
Later that night, K9 Riggs was just as happy rolled over onto his back to accept belly rubs and pose for photos with attendees.
Among the booths manned by local merchants, nonprofits and public safety agencies, children waited in line to have their photo taken in front of an Orange County Fire Authority engine and receive a plastic fireman’s helmet.
Godfrey Hom of Irvine watched his son, Shane, ogle at the fire engine at Tuesday’s event.
“At home he has all his cars and loves to play cops and firemen,” Hom said. “We love every chance we get to support our local firefighters and police.”
Those who attended found no shortage of activities.
The U.S. Army’s 419th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion also brought two Humvees for members of the public to sit in. Local children also enjoyed a bounce house, a balloon artist, and winning candy and books off a prize wheel from the Boys & Girls Club of Tustin.
In an update on the department’s crime-fighting efforts, Sgt. Ryan Coe talked about the success of reducing calls for service at Peppertree Park as part of Project 365.
The National Night Out initiative encourages communities to identify a public safety issue and collaborate year-round with local enforcement to solve it. Tustin Police identified Peppertree Park as a crime trend area and with the community’s involvement has been able to reduce the number of calls for service from 38 to eight per month since September 2016.
Police Services Office Megan Evans said National Night Out is an important event because it allows people to get to know their neighbors in a face-to-face setting. It also presents a special opportunity for community members, especially children, to see police officers as friendly and approachable, Evans said. Typically, the public meets officers when they’ve called for help, which doesn’t allow for a laid-back interaction.
“This is a way to meet officers outside of that experience,” Evans said.