Community outreach and goodwill in the Sunken Gardens

ATASCADERO — Tuesday, Aug. 3, marked the National Night Out, and for the fourth year in a row, Atascadero participated in the nationwide community-building event.

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Atascadero Police Department (APD), Atascadero Fire Department (AFD), San Luis Obispo (SLO) County Sheriff’s Office, SLO County Search and Rescue, United States Army all came out for a giant meet and greet with the community of Atascadero.

Families and children were able to tour a fleet of emergency vehicles, pet Luke the K-9, see riot gear close up, learn about gun injury prevention, see what evidence and crime scenes look like, and enter a free raffle to win prizes from Atascadero businesses.


“This is the community I grew up in,” said APD Officer Craig Martineau, “so I love interacting with the community that I’m from and I’m a part of. Now I have a job as a law enforcement officer here, so it’s a good opportunity for the community to get to know me so they can have a little bit of an idea of who I am, that I’m just a normal person, really. It’s a small department, so if you call us for help, the chance of you seeing one of the six of us that are out here is pretty high.”

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“It’s a partnership between our local businesses and our first responders for our community members,” said APD Officer Lauren Purify. “It’s a night out to get to know each other. We get to hang out with them, and they get to hang out with us.”

Children jumped in bounce houses while Galaxy Theaters handed out free movie theater popcorn, SloDoCo handed out free donuts, Wild Fields Brewhouse served up free food options. Barracuda Baking provided free cookies, and an amalgamation of North County Starbucks Coffee stores all came out to serve free iced coffee and tea. All in all, it was a huge meet and greet with the people of Atascadero.

“We kind of like to break the rules when it comes to donuts,” said Laura Krause of SloDoCo. “We try to do crazy and fun donuts that taste appetizing.”

“We are here connecting with the community, hoping to bring awareness to our law enforcement and first responders,” said Natasha Schlitz of Starbucks Coffee.

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“We’re just excited to serve and to give back to our community,” said Riley Benado of Starbucks Coffee.

“For us, it’s just an opportunity for the community to come out and meet some of their first responders and firefighters,” said AFD Battalion Chief Matt Miranda. “Our organization is just a small, tightly-knit group, and the reason we stay tight is that we genuinely care about each other, and that’s the same attitude we pour into the community. We genuinely care about the people that we serve and see on an everyday basis. It means something to us at the end of the day. It’s not just a do your job and go home type of thing.”

National Night Out is celebrated annually across the United States on the first Tuesday of August.