The La Habra Police Department opened its doors to the public for its annual Open House on Oct. 23 and even a steady drizzle of rain didn’t stop the community from turning out for an up-close look at the department’s operations.
The Open House also gives the public the chance to meet police personnel in an informal setting and “establish two roads of communication,” said Sgt. Eric Ocampo, who organized the event.
“The essential (role) of the department is to protect and serve and having the public see both sides of us in the community is always kind of special,” Ocampo said. “We’re just trying to do everything we can to open our doors.”
Detectives with general investigations and special investigations, members of North Orange County SWAT, dispatchers, motor officers, a K9 and even the department’s sketch artist were there to explain what they do and why they do it.
For example, Dispatcher Christina Martinez said many people aren’t aware of all the responsibilities of police dispatchers.
“For the city of La Habra, we handle all the calls, all the calls for service, 911, non-emergency, and when city hall is closed, the calls come here,” Martinez said. “We are answering phones, we are dispatching, we are talking to officers who come in, communicating with our partners. We cover everything.”
Attendees also got to tour the department’s jail cells, as well as see, and hold, some of the sophisticated equipment and vehicles used to protect the public and solve crimes.
Everything from tasers, gas masks, body armor and radar guns to heavily equipped armored vehicles, motorcycles and SUVs.
Kids got to sit in the driver’s seat of patrol vehicles and turn on the siren and flashing lights.
Resident Annette Silva and her 8-year-old daughter, Chloe, were attending the Open House for the second time.
Silva said she wants Chloe to develop solid morals.
“Meeting police officers and learning about their various duties shows her daughter the importance of obeying the law,” Silva said.
“That way, she won’t be afraid of police officers,” she said. “She loves it. She wanted to come. She loves the free badges that they give out.”
Resident Ivan Saavedra came to the Open House with his wife and two daughters.
He also came with 16 Starbucks gift cards, which his daughters gave to officers as a gesture of appreciation for their service.
“They are here on the front lines,” Saavedra said. “It’s tough being a police officer.”
Saavedra said he brings his daughters to show them that the police are “our friends.”
“We respect them,” he said. “They respect us. They are here to help.”