Southern California

‘Night Out' Events Planned to Promote Public Safety, Community Involvement

The event has grown to include block parties, parades, movie screenings and more

Community gatherings will be held across Southern California Tuesday night as residents get together with police officers, sheriff's deputies and elected officials as part of the annual National Night Out crime-prevention event.

The event began three decades ago as a take-back-the-streets campaign spearheaded by residents holding gatherings in a show of community pride.

Over the years, the event has grown to include block parties, parades, movie screenings and picnics, with millions of people taking part across the country.

During the event, residents are encouraged to lock their doors, turn on their front house lights and join with neighbors, law enforcement and Neighborhood Watch leaders at local neighborhood events. Activities vary by event but generally include food, police and fire displays, live entertainment and a chance to interact with city officials.

Events are planned throughout areas patrolled by the Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Most Southland police departments will also hold events.

The Corona Police Department is inviting residents to take part in its annual get-together outside City Hall, 400 S. Vicentia Ave. Events are planned between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. and include exhibitions by the forensics unit, the K-9 team and the mounted unit. Kids' activities are scheduled, and visitors will receive information concerning anti-crime resources, organizers said.

And in Hemet, police officers will be showcasing their gear and interacting with residents beginning about 5 p.m., outside the United Methodist Church located at 530 S. Buena Vista St.

"There will be ice cream vendors and ... an opportunity to meet some local first responders, including members of the police department, fire department and American Medical Response," Hemet police Lt. Eric Dickson said.

The city of Murrieta has scheduled a big Night Out celebration at Town Square Park, Kalmia Street and Jefferson Avenue, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Officials said attendees this year can look forward to a K-9 demo, SWAT unit displays, tours of a mobile command post and kids' activities.

The city of Riverside has a major event planned between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. at the Orange Terrace Community Center, 20010 Orange Terrace Parkway, where public safety personnel will share insights on law enforcement and fire operations while participants enjoy a range of snacks and the opportunity to win over 100 items during prize giveaways. Sen. Richard Roth, D-Riverside, is slated to stop by.

Most desert police agencies postpone Night Out events until the fall, when the weather is cooler, but the Indio Police Department will hold its get-together between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Towne Street, between Bliss and Miles avenues. There will be public safety resources to check out, with food and soft drink vendors on hand, according to organizers.

Riverside County sheriff's personnel will be showcasing equipment and offering information about crime prevention in neighborhoods throughout Perris, while in Menifee, a Night Out celebration is scheduled from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Audie Murphy Sports Park, 30376 Lone Pine Drive.

Started in 1984, National Night Out is billed as "America's night out against crime." The event began with simple gestures, such as residents keeping their porch lights on from dusk to dawn in a demonstration of neighborhood unity and crime-fighting spirit.

Since that time, the National Night Out concept has expanded to include the implementation of voluntary watch programs and face-to-face meetings to improve relations and communication between law enforcement and community members.

It is sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch and co-sponsored by local municipalities and law enforcement agencies nationwide.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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