|RP has fun on National Night Out
Officials, residents get familiar at event designed to promote neighborhood safety
Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety invited members of the city to step away from the safety and confines of their home to spend the night out on Aug. 6. Don’t worry; this wasn’t a strange or impromptu block party but rather an invitation to help celebrate National Night Out, a nationwide event that began in 1984 that is dedicated to teaching citizens how best to stay safe in all aspects of their lives and to give the community a chance to meet with their working public safety officers.
“In this day and age, we tend to get away from being personal and face-to-face interaction,” said dispatch worker Christina Matzen. “This gives the opportunity to meet their people…to put a face to the voices over the phone.”
The event took place in the parking lot and courtyard of the Rohnert Park police station, set up to look like, at a first glance, a street fair. Kids trot hand-in-hand with parents, eyes wide as they gaze up at large, noisy, striking vehicles – the police cruisers, a fire engine, an ambulance, a construction front loader truck and police motorcycles. They were invited to come up, climb inside and even touch the vehicles, so long as they asked and spoke with the officer present.
At the fire truck station, they were even allowed to don small fire uniforms and spray the hose at a tiny model house, set up with flaps of fake fire and smoke to simulate a burning house. There didn’t seem to be a child in the lot who was not boasting a junior police, paramedic or firefighter badge sticker on their chest.
Each booth and station tried to have something for kids, family and citizens to learn about their city, safety or just their community, whether through an interactive activity or through provided pamphlets and speaking with representatives.
At the paramedic’s ambulance, you could get down on your knees and learn proper CPR, taught to you by a trained officer and practice on a CPR dummy. Your official “Junior Paramedic” sticker was awarded to you after training.
“This is an event to bring the community together,” said Director of Public Safety Brian Masterson. “This gives everyone a chance to meet. What makes things so nice about Rohnert Park is we get a lot of cooperation. and the people aren’t tolerant of crime. That’s what makes this community great.”
Not all booths were sponsored by the RPDPS, though most did strive to somehow teach or help you keep an aspect of your life safe. There was the Rohnert Park
Animal Shelter, demonstrating how to find (and of course the importance of) locating chip in a pet and a pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey-inspired game of ‘Pin the License on Fluffy.’ Also seeking homes were two furry faced kittens, Pancake and Louie.
And they weren’t the only fluffy friends present. The police brought their K-9 unit, Enzo, while Search and Rescue made an appearance with bloodhounds Player and Daisy Duke. Enzo eagerly showed onlookers how he can take down a violent suspect to protect his commanding officer, while Daisy and Player demonstrating how they use their gifted, wrinkly noses to sniff out suspects and missing persons.
Of course, it would not have been a community event without a little fun and games, and National Night Out managed to combine that element with their intent of introducing the community to city and safety officials. There was a dunk tank where you were invited to try to drunk officials such as Masterson and City Councilman Amy Ahanotu.
Also present at the event was a blood-donation truck, where information on donating blood was handed out alongside a few pieces of candy and a glow-in-the-dark necklace. You could also donate blood, something which working officials said they did in fact receive a lot of that night.
The Rohnert Park’s National Night Out was a joint effort by the Department of Public Safety, the community and from the help of local sponsors.
Blake’s Auto Body, Target, Rohnert Park Disposal, FoodMax, Redwood Credit Union, Smart and Final Santa Rosa, Safeway, Office Depot, Clover Stornetta Farms, Costco, Coldstones, Westamerican Bank, Plan B Survival, Sally’s Tomatoes, Jubilee Jumps, Masterson Family, Sonoma Family Life, Rohnert Park Public Safety.