Even though Tustin’s National Night Out is right around the corner, Adriana Tokar and Megan Evans started planning for the event seven months ago.
Evans and Tokar are police service officers in the Tustin Police Department’s Community Relations Unit.
“Our hands are in a little bit of everything.” Evans said. “[We do] a little bit of crime prevention while event planning.”
Tokar and Evans’ duties include planning, creating, or assisting in a variety of events and programs that each work towards a different solution but ultimately aim to grow the relationship between law enforcement and the community.
So, what type of events do they plan?
For starters, the next upcoming event is National Night Out.
In partnership with The District at Tustin Legacy, Tustin’s National Night Out will be from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. August 7.
National Night Out focuses on crime prevention while bolstering relations between residents and the police department.
National Night Out offers families a night of fun and free entertainment and showcases the different units at the Tustin Police Department, offering live demonstrations from the K9 unit.
The event also includes a welcome ceremony and presentation of the colors by the Tustin Police Department Honor Guard, which is followed by entertainment from the local music school, School of Rock in addition to games and face painting.
Besides National Night Out, Tokar and Evans are involved in a variety of other events and programs throughout the year.
The Tustin Police Department’s programs include Think About It, where Tokar and Evans visit preschoolers, first graders, second graders, and fourth graders. They introduce the children to officers to make them feel more comfortable with the police, teach them about calling 9-1-1, and teach them how to stand up to or report bullying — and at the end of the day the kids get a chance to sit in a police car.
Tokar and Evans also assist the Drug Enforcement Administration with Take Back Day twice a year. During Take Back Day, the police department collect and properly dispose of unwanted or expired medication so that it doesn’t end up in the hands of children.
During Santa Cop, the city and police department provide gifts for children in need, while during the visit to the Foothill Regional Medical Center the officers visit brain-injured children, bring them gifts, and decorate their rooms.
Tokar and Evans also plan the Tustin Police Department’s Open House and run Neighborhood Watch and Block Captain meetings. If that weren’t enough, the Tustin Police Department also participates in the annual National Association of Town Watch community project contest. Tokar and Evans submit a community project where Tustin police work on focusing addressing issues in a specific area within the city.
This year they are working on cleaning up the Stevens Square parking structure, where people like to hang out during late night hours.
“We want to make a difference and it’s cool when we hear that it does work,” Evans said.
So far, Tustin has received recognition and has been in the top ranks of the competition every year.
While crime prevention and event planning are the crux of the job, the key is the ability to work together.
“We complement each other very well,” Evans said.
Evans explained that she is in charge of the logistics side of events and makes sure everything is in order, while Tokar is the creative-minded one and makes everything look good.
Both agreed that at the end of the day, the job is very rewarding.
Tokar, who always looked up to law enforcement as a child, says her favorite part is the relationships that she helps build in the community. She speaks fluent Spanish, which gives Spanish-speaking residents another avenue for any questions or help.
“I’ve already built up the relationship, so they know they can come to me and I can help them,” Tokar says. “They don’t have to go struggle to speak with someone.”
When Evans was asked about her favorite part of the job, she got up from her chair and returned with a hand-drawn book an elementary student made for her.
“You know, that’s just one thing,” Evans said.
The handmade book consisted of drawn pictures and fill-in-the-blank style pages containing reasons the students enjoyed the officers’ visit.
Both Evans and Tokar frequently receive cards and hand-drawn pictures from students they visit at the elementary schools during Think About It.
“I can say we love what we do,” Tokar said.