Every year, communities throughout the country come together to participate in National Night Out — an event that promotes public safety, crime prevention and awareness for drugs and violence.
Firefighters, police and volunteer patrol officers and emergency medical technicians from National City and Chula Vista were available to answer questions from the public.
At the Chula Vista Police station on Fourth and F Street, officers gave guided tours of police headquarters, which included a walk-through of a crime lab and a display of law enforcement specialty units including SWAT and the mobile field force teams health services organizations.
Chula Vista Police officer Joel Monreal demonstrated how a “bite suit” works using his 7-year-old K-9 Lucas.
A dog that’s fully trained like Lucas costs approximately $10,000, Monreal said.
Chula Vista Police Chief David Bejarano said Tuesday he expected upward of 2,000 people to attend.
Nearly 1,500 people took part in last year’s event.
“This is a great opportunity for the community and public safety personnel to come together to keep our community safe,” he said. “It provides an opportunity for positive interaction.”
Chula Vista resident Sally Gonzalez, 30, brought her 10-month-old son Eli to the event hoping to get him fingerprinted.
“We couldn’t do it because they have to be at least one (years old),” she said. “But we’ll come back next year and do it.”
Chula Vista Police officer Angela Gaines worked the city’s community booth, where she and others handed out pamphlets on crime prevention, the Neighborhood Watch program and police academy.
The Chula Vista Fire Department engine No. 51 crew demonstrated how they would save persons trapped in a car by using a 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.
Free food and drink was provided for the public as well as giveaways.
Meanwhile at the municipal pool in Las Palmas Park, the city of National City was hosting its eighth annual National Night Out event and opened up the pool for a special free session of night swimming.
The event featured static displays of SWAT equipment, law enforcement personnel, department motorcycles and McGruff the crime dog.
In National City, Firefighters Association Local 2744 grilled hamburgers and hot dogs for the first 300 attendees.
National City fire fighter Mike Mejia was in charge of logistics for the event, including coordinating the food.
“This event started getting people out in places that are crime ridden,” Mejia said. “It’s a good opportunity to come together as a community and have a good meal.”
Miss National City Lizeth Olivas worked a quilt booth where anyone could write and/or draw on a square of material, which will later be sewn together and presented at the city’s 125th anniversary celebration Sept. 22 at Kimball Park.
“I think this is a great event the city is hosting,” Olivas said. “It gives families an opportunity to interact with officers and it’s also a night for kids to enjoy themselves.”
National City Police officer Colleen Stanich said the event allows citizens an opportunity to talk with officers.
“It brings us down a notch and let’s them know we’re human and that they can talk to us,” she said. “You hope it helps stop crime and unites people.”
It’s anticipated that more than 35 million people nationwide participated in this year’s event, according to National City officials.