More than a thousand residents participated in Tuesday's National Night Out Against Crime in Chula Vista and National City. The event was designed to promote prevention awareness for crime, drugs and violence.
Local area firefighters, police and volunteer patrol officers and emergency medical technicians contributed by answering the public's questions, demonstrating the Jaws of Life and showing police dog attacks.
National City residents attended the sixth annual event at the municipal pool in Las Palmas Park, while Chula Vista residents had their fun at the Chula Vista Police Station off Fourth and F Street.
Chula Vista Police Chief David Bejarano said that more than 700 people came to the event from 4 to 8:30 p.m.
"I've been involved in law enforcement for 30 years and this is the largest night out I've seen," he said.
Bejarano said that it's important for the community to become involved in crime prevention awareness.
"From what I've seen there's been a decline in crime in the county because law enforcement in the community has been so successful," he said.
Bejarano said that some of the favorites of the evening's event were the walk-through crime lab, training simulator, Jaws of Life and the K-9 demonstration.
Crime analyst Nancy Plonffe and officer Anthony Gonzales worked the Automated Regional Justice Information System booth, answering questions regarding crime maps and registered sex offenders. Logging onto the arjis.org Web site allows residents to map regional crime, enforcement and traffic incidents, provides various crime statistics including the 10 most wanted suspects according to San Diego County law enforcement agencies.
The Psychiatric Emergency Response Team had two female representatives providing information to passersby. PERT has been around for 12 years and currently has 24 team members in San Diego County. A PERT team is comprised of a law enforcement officer/deputy and a licensed mental health clinician who ride together in a patrol car and respond to calls that indicate a need for psychiatric crisis intervention or assessment, such as incidents involving a suicide, homicide or community disturbance. Both team members have the ability to place individuals on an involuntary mental health hold (5150) for 72 hours and transport them to a mental hospital or jail.
"I love never knowing what's going to happen," said registered nurse Victoria DiCaprio. She has been working for PERT for five years.
The Chula Vista Fire Department engine No. 51 crew demonstrated how they would save persons trapped in a car by using the tool known as the Jaws of Life. Under the "golden hour rule" they must get a person from the vehicle to the hospital within 60 minutes.
In National City, Firefighters Association Local 2744 grilled hamburgers and hot dogs for the first 300 attendees, while Target representatives gave away 250 goodie bags, which included sidewalk chalk, bubbles, a folder and candy.
Target has partnered with National City and law enforcement for the sixth consecutive year to help promote awareness in crime prevention.
"It's great to be a part of an event that creates a crime awareness and prevention culture," said National City store manager Debra Hills.
National City SWAT officer Omar Ramirez showed residents the gear used to perform hostage rescue, including a multi-launcher chemical agent gun, which also shoots 40-millimeter rubber bullets and is used in raids and riots.
City Council members were recognized at the event as well as National City Police Chief Adolfo Gonzales, Vice Mayor Alejandra Sotelo-Solis and Mayor Ron Morrison.
"This event is symbolic of National City," Morrison said. "It keeps getting bigger and better every year."