ATASCADERO — Members of Atascadero’s police force plan to join departments across the country for their first National Night Out, a community-building campaign.
Already an annual tradition in other regions, the concept is to promote “police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live,” similar to the well-known ‘Coffee with a Cop’ campaign.
The event will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 7 in Colony Park, 5599 Traffic Way.
Envisioned locally as a potluck, incentive to turn out has also been provided by Atascadero Grocery Outlet in the form of 500 hotdogs, chips and bottled water.
“It would be great if that many people turned out,” said Atascadero Police Department information officer Sgt. Jason Carr, “We have no idea what to expect for the first year. That many would be outstanding.”
Two dogs not on the menu, members of the department’s K-9 unit, may serve as a draw as well, with their handlers providing demonstrations for attendees.
“We’re always interested in finding events to attend as part of the community like everyone else,” Sgt. Carr said, “The National Night out has been going on for awhile but Corp. [John] Taylor had the idea to put it together for us this year.”
As supervisor of the K-9 unit, the Corporal had some experience with community outreach and fundraising efforts, noted Grocery Outlet Co-owner Teresa Hughes, and she was happy to pitch in when he came to them for the event.
“We try to get involved in the community as much as possible,” she said. “I think it’s a great idea, sort of ‘come and ask a police officer anything you’ve always wanted to ask’ and pet the canines.”
Sgt. Carr said that people are, “encouraged to come out and join us for some good conversation,” with five to seven of the local officers expected to attend. Depending on call load, added more on-duty personnel may be able to make it.
Though a first locally, National Night Out is hosted in all U.S. states, territories and military bases worldwide on the first Tuesday in August, except in Texas which moves the festivities to fall. Since 1984, participating neighborhoods have held block parties, festivals, parades, cookouts and public safety demonstrations.