By Jason KUROSU
Tuesday night provided the public with an opportunity to meet with members of the sheriff’s and police departments and other community members during National Night Out, a coordinated event promoting crime prevention held at various locations throughout the country. Crescenta Valley’s Sheriff’s Station held its National Night Out event at Ralph’s Market, cordoning off an area of the parking lot for booths from various organizations.
“We’re just trying to get the word out as much as possible,” said Sheriff’s Deputy Jorge Valdivia, who has also coordinated CV’s National Night Out for the last four years. “We’re here to help and we want people to know who we are.”
Some of the groups present included California Highway Patrol, Montrose Search & Rescue and CERT. Attendees could speak directly with law enforcement, gather recruiting information or take a more interactive approach by handling equipment. Montrose Search & Rescue brought out its rig, fully stocked with the myriad ropes, harnesses and other gear used when responding to wilderness emergencies such as rescuing lost hikers. Los Angeles County Disaster Communications had its ham radio on hand, which they used during the 2009 Station Fire to aid communication between the sheriff’s, fire and forestry departments.
However, National Night Out was not meant solely for interacting with law enforcement and emergency responders, but also to offer an opportunity for families to get to know each other. Prizes and free giveaways were on hand, as well as other activities such as face painting from the Girl Scouts’ booth and a La Crescenta Library raffle.
Over at Oakmont Woods, the Residents Association held its first NNO event. The event was organized by Sonia and Joe Beerer (Sonia is the OWRA treasurer) and Leonard Coutin, the association president. Families gathered at the community pool to get acquainted with the police and reacquainted with their neighbors while enjoying hot dogs, Ping Pong and other activities.
“This is a neighborly community,” said Valdivia of the Crescenta Valley. “We want people to get to know their neighbors because they can coordinate with each other and look out for one another.”
Valdivia noted that property crime is most prevalent in the area, such as theft, auto break-ins and identity theft.
“Having a neighbor that’s looking out for you, who knows you and your family and who can see if someone’s on your property who shouldn’t be, will be a big help,” he said.
Although the crime rate is comparatively low in the foothills, Valdivia pointed out that it has been reduced 14% over the last three years.
“And it can go lower,” said Valdivia. “With events like this, I think our crime numbers will continue to go down.”