The Tustin Police Department’s annual Open House on Sept. 17 was arguably the agency’s biggest and most attended in the 25-year history of the event.
The community turned out in force for the family friendly open house, with well over 1,000 people filtering through the City Hall parking lot for a chance to interact with personnel from every unit within the department. The parking lot was filled with booths from the Motor Unit, the GRADE Team, the K9 Unit, and the SWAT Team. Each booth was staffed with members of their respective units to give attendees a detailed perspective of what daily operations look like.
“It seems like everyone is anxious to get back out,” Deputy Chief Bob Wright said. “It’s good for us. It gives us a chance to once again engage with our community on a one-to-one basis.”
Families were lined up along both sides of Centennial Way to watch demonstrations by the SWAT Team, K9 officers, and the Motor Unit along with the Orange County Fire Authority.
“We support our local law enforcement and all law enforcement,” said Ashley Moscos, who attended the open house with her husband and children. “We are here just to teach our kids about our everyday heroes keeping our community safe and the goodness going on around us. We’re glad to expose our kids to things like this.”
One of the most popular stops was at the booth manned by Tustin Police Department’s Gang Reduction and Directed Enforcement Unit, more commonly known as GRADE. A variety of guns, knives, brass knuckles, and other weapons taken off the streets by the unit were on display, along with some of the tools used by GRADE detectives to do their job, such as breaching tools and safety equipment.
“They are asking about the tools,” GRADE Unit Detective Christopher Natividad said. “They pick some of them up to see how heavy they are. It’s a good time. You get to interact with a lot of kids and people from the public that we don’t often interact with.”
Officer Mark Sauerwein of the Professional Standards Division manned the recruiting table along with Officer Michelle Jankowski. Sauerwein also oversaw the blood drive in partnership with the American Red Cross, which was held inside the Community Center as part of the open house.
“This is a true reflection of the support we have within our community,” Sauerwein said of the large turnout.
When describing the open house, Deputy Chief Wright may have put it best.
“This is not a call for service,” Wright said. “This is not the community calling us to respond. It is actually us calling our community so that we can interact together and get to know each other on an informal level.”
Tustin Police Department has been holding its annual open house arguably longer than any other law enforcement agency in the county. Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic forced the open house to be canceled in 2020. The department held a virtual open house in 2021.
Community Relations Unit Police Services Officer Jennifer Jones, who was in charge of organizing the open house, said putting the event together involved a lot of coordination between units, along with community outreach. Jones also credited her colleagues for their help.
“It’s really a team effort,” Jones said.
Many other agencies participated in the event as well, including first-time participants the California Highway Patrol and the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Several nonprofit organizations that offer services to children and families also had booths.
“We had to think outside the box and ask organizations we didn’t ask in the past,” Jones said. “This is the 25th one, so I wanted to make it something special.”