National Night Out to unite community, law enforcement

national-night-out-rgbBy DAVID SCHOLZ
Martinez Tribune

MARTINEZ, Calif. – The timing of the Aug. 2 National Night Out may be carrying greater significance in the wake of recent strife around the country.

Law enforcement is carrying a particularly heavy heart these days in light of the ambush deaths in Dallas earlier this month, and more recently in Baton Rouge. At the same time, there has been an equal outpouring of public support as evidenced by the various postings on local police department Facebook websites, including Martinez and Pleasant Hill.

“I think that any opportunity to engage the community, whether it’s National Night Out or just a daily interaction between the police and the community is critical,’’ said Martinez Police Chief Manjit Sappal.

“Ultimately, our ability to police rests in our legitimacy with the public and the only way to have legitimacy is to build trust and relationships,’’ he continued. “I definitely think that National Night Out will help with making progress.” 

National Night Out events are scheduled at multiple locations around Martinez, at the City Hall in Pleasant Hill, and at sites around Contra Costa County, including the following communities in the Muir Station Crime Prevention Area: Unincorporated Martinez, Pacheco, Bay Point and Clyde.

The following are the locations and specific events planned in the City of Martinez:

600 block of Main Street
Meet Neighborhood Policing Area (NPA) officers and members of the City Council. Emergency response vehicles and equipment will also be on hand for an up close inspection. Participants include Shell Refinery in Martinez and Martinez Education Foundation.  DJ entertainment by Minor Chords Productions. (Enter the Pokémon Go contest! Check into Downtown Martinez and post screenshots of Pokemon you find in the downtown during National Night Out 2016 using the hashtag #PokeMartinez to be entered into a drawing for a gift basket donated by Main Street Sweets. Earn extra entries if you find a Pokémon and post a screenshot inside a downtown business!)

Creekside Church, 444 Fig Tree Lane

There will be music, food and a jump house for the kids. CHP will be on hand conducting car seat installations and inspections. The REACH helicopter will make an appearance and much more. 

Nancy Boyd Park, 100 Church Street
There will be a potluck in the park, so bring your favorite dish and join your neighbors. 

Les Schwab Tires, 3800 Alhambra Avenue
There will be music, food and ice cream floats 

Harbor View Neighborhood, 2200 block of Harbor View
A neighborhood BBQ is being planned. 

More events may be scheduled, and residents should check for updates to planned National Night Out activities.
Building relationships is a goal that underscores the National Night Out festivities, noted Sappal, and a community and police department have to work together to make the city safer for all. It is time well spent, he said.

“My hope is that meeting with people on National Night Out starts the conversation and that conversation between residents and the police continues throughout the year,’’ Sappal said.

Sappal acknowledged there are some neighborhoods in which people may not have much interaction with the police, but are interested in learning more about the police department. National Night Out presents that opportunity to forge new relationships and strengthen existing ones.  

He noted the National Night Out experience is a great opportunity not just to enhance communication between police and the community, but between neighbors who may live close to each other and yet not really know each other well.

Pleasant Hill Police Department’s festivities will take place on the lawn at the Pleasant Hill City Hall, along Gregory Lane, from 6-8 p.m.

The event will include free BBQ burgers, a bouncy house and face painting for the kids, and the presence of police cars, a demonstration of the PHPD’s K-9 unit, a fire truck and an ambulance.

The Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office is hosting a National Night Out event at the Alhambra Christmas Tree Farm, 2647 Reliez Valley Road, from 6-9 p.m. The sheriff’s office helicopter STARR3 unit is planning to fly over all National Night Out activities in the county as well.

The public is asked to bring canned food items or donate $1 toward the Contra Costa/Solano Food Bank. For each donation, attendees will be eligible to participate in a raffle of various prizes, including home security systems.

First responders from all local agencies will be present with a piece of their equipment at the farm. CERT will also be present with a booth.

Pacific Union Real Estate is sponsoring the evening’s program. Evening activities include a live band, kid’s entertainment by Andrea Gaspari, as well as horse-drawn carriage rides and a petting zoo. A master arts demonstration by Master Schreiber’s ATA Martial Arts is on the schedule too.

“This is a time for our communities to come together to promote safety, awareness, and unity,” said Sheriff David O. Livingston. “These events are fun, effective, and inexpensive ways to interact with your neighbors and law enforcement, while strengthening those relationships and partnerships.”

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