ATASCADERO — The Atascadero Police Department is joining with cities across the nation for an annual "Night Out" with members of the community, Aug. 6 in the Sunken Gardens.
Described by the Department as an "annual community-building campaign promoting police and community partnerships designed to establish camaraderie amongst our neighborhoods that make them a safer and more caring place to live," they've moved the event to a larger venue this year, with more time to plan, after success in 2018.
Community Service Officer Lauren Purify, who is incidentally the person most likely to be taking a community member's report after a case of theft or fraud, said the focus was on helping the community feel connected to all forms of emergency service personnel they're likely to see in other settings.
"We're going for a consistent, unified, theme of safety this year," she explained, adding with just under a week left before the event, that she was hoping to get an RSVP from area park rangers and the CHP in Templeton to come to join the evening's festivities.
Firefighters and the area's youth scouting organizations are returning as well.
A safety course for children giving them the mental tools to use in case they find an unattended firearm is among the outreach efforts and parents will be able to keep an ink fingerprinting kit with their child's imprints. Aside from being an interesting demonstration, Purify said the memento is a good thing for families to have, "just in case."
While there will be a Crime Scene Investigation booth, along with the Explorers program, Chamber of Commerce and repeat sponsors, Atascadero Grocery Outlet, some of the messier materials the detectives use, such as the ferromagnetic fingerprinting powder, will be kept in the "look, but don't touch" arena.
Costco Wholesale and SloDoCo Donuts are sponsoring as well, with the coffee shop which opened this year bringing some hot beverages across the Centennial Footpath Bridge to the park.
"Sunken Gardens is a much bigger park than where we were last year, and more visible, so we expect a lot more visitors," Purify said, adding that they're going big on raffle prizes throughout the event.
Held from 5 to 7 p.m., martial arts demonstrations of self-defense techniques among the entertainments and informative displays planned, with the Police Department's K-9 units and restored 1955 Chevy patrol car ever-popular attractions.
While the City of Atascadero is getting back into the swing of the annual event, the concept has been around since 1984 and is formally sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch in both the United States and Canada. According to the association, early events consisted only of neighbors turning on their porch lights and sitting in front of their homes.