The Orange Police Department opened its doors to the community on Oct. 14 so residents could learn more about their local police agency.
The always-popular police K-9s, motor officers, members of the SWAT team, as well as the agency’s new mounted unit, welcomed residents to the event.
“It’s very important to give the community the opportunity to come meet the police department … see what we do,” said OPD Chief Tom Kisela, explaining why the agency rebooted the open house idea. He said the last open house took place 12 to 14 years ago.
“At the end of the day … the most important thing is to communicate with the community,” he said.
The open house, which ran from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., offered residents guided tours of the inside of the agency every 10 minutes. In the parking area, various booths, demonstrations, and police vehicles were readily available for guests to visit and ask questions – included among them were members of the OPD explorer program, the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), SWAT, the bike team, the motor team, the mounted unit, and the K-9s and their handlers.
German shepherd police K-9s Bosco and Griffin were quickly surrounded by kids and their parents wanting to see and pet them. Their handlers were more than happy to answer any questions. Same went for the mounted unit team, which had several horses out and available for those wanting to pet them.
Members of the SWAT team had their SWAT truck available for a quick tour, and had some of their gear on display. The team demonstrated breaching techniques for ramming a door open with their training door. Kids were able to test it out for themselves, with the help of SWAT members.
Parents took their children over to the police motorcycle area to sit kids on the bikes for pictures.
Larger demos, including a motor unit demonstration, two K-9 unit demonstrations, and a presentation by a member of the Homeless Engagement, Assistance and Resource Team (HEART), rounded out the event.
Sgt. Dave Natividad, of the mounted unit, led a presentation alongside Officer Dan Yakel and Investigator Sarah Costa, all on horses.
“It’s for community relations – people love horses,” Natividad said. “They’re also out there (as a) crime deterrent.”
He said that in a crowd-control situation, one horse is equivalent to 10 ground officers.
“The horses are going to do it much more safely for people, much more safely for us,” he said.
K-9 Officers Jude King and Damon Allen also showed the audience what police dogs can do.
With King on the mic, Allen and his 95-pound dog, Bosco, demonstrated how Bosco could find narcotics hidden underneath one of several orange cones. And with the help of a decoy – an officer in a bite suit – they also showed how effective Bosco is at catching bad guys.
“He is an amazing dog … he’s an apprehension dog,” King told the audience. “One of the best things about these dogs is the fact they’re so smart.”
Chief Kisela also addressed the audience, thanking residents for coming out to the special event that has now returned after many years. He added that local police have been working hard assisting with the recent fires.
“They did a phenomenal job,” he said, as the audience applauded. He said the officers came in on their own time to assist. “It’s just a testament to the type of individuals we have working here.”