About 50 residents stopped by Tuesday to get to know the people who put their lives on the line to protect them.
A number of first responders participated in Los Banos’ fifth annual National Night Out on Pine Street between Delaware and Illinois avenues.
Mostly held at parks, this year’s event took place near a residential area behind Memorial Hospital, Los Banos.
“We wanted to keep moving. Last year we were at Big Page Park and this year the chief wanted to get closer to the neighborhoods,” said Megan Soares, a crime analyst for the Los Banos Police Department and organizer of the event. “It’s for the community to come out and meet law enforcement.”
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The three-hour meet-and-greet was a collaboration among Target, which donated food-related supplies, the Los Banos Police Department, the Los Banos Fire Department and the California Highway Patrol.
Attendees received free food and viewed emergency vehicles – fire engines and police cars – as well as met firefighters and police officers.
Cmdr. Ray Reyna Jr. said National Night Out fosters communication between residents and the police.
“It gives us a chance to talk with them,” Reyna said. “We want them to feel comfortable talking to us, even some of our non-sworn (officer) staff is out here.”
Police Chief Gary Brizzee and some of his administration staff played with children who came to the event. Hopscotch, blowing bubbles, four square and playing with Hula Hoops were popular activities at the event.
Officer Dusty Norris also introduce attendees to the department’s new K-9, Charles. The drug sniffing dog was given his name to match the surname of his master in an homage to Chuck Norris.
Jose Rango brought his 4-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter to the event.
“I don’t want them to grow up being scared of the police officers. I want them to be with the community,” he said.
Police Chief Gary Brizzee said he does believe the National Night Out events have an impact.
“It lets everybody know we, our community, run the streets, not the bad guys,” Brizzee said.
National Night Out is now in its 31st year. Millions of people nationwide and in Canada participate in some sort of community gathering each year.