Sunday, October 21 , 2018, 12:48 pm | Fair 72º

 
 
 
 

Residents in Santa Maria, Lompoc Turn Out for National Night Out

Events promote crime prevention and building partnerships in the communities

Former Santa Maria councilman Willie Brown sits on a traffic officer motorcycle Tuesday night during National Night Out with Officer Mike Guerra.
Former Santa Maria councilman Willie Brown sits on a traffic officer motorcycle Tuesday night during National Night Out with Officer Mike Guerra. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Santa Maria hosted National Night Out on Tuesday with an eye toward preventing crime and building partnerships in the community.

The 2016 National Night Out event returned to the Veterans Memorial Community Center and Park in the northwest section of the city after last year setting up at the Santa Maria Town Center parking lot. 

The two-hour National Night Out focused on police-community collaborations, crime prevention and neighborhood camaraderie.

"It's just an opportunity for maybe even those people who are reluctant to come and meet with us to maybe come and do it in a setting that they feel comfortable with," Chief Ralph Martin said. "If we reach out and develop a relationship with one person it's a success.

"In light of everything that's happened nationally, we need all the support we can get," he added.

This year's event boasted 50 vendors, according to Officer Ricky Arias, who organized this year's gathering as part of the Police Department's Community Services Unit.

"It's the biggest it's ever been," Arias said, adding that the business community stepped up to support the event focused on providing a crime-free, drug-free, fun event.

It wasn't just children having a good time. Former city councilman Willie Green hopped atop a police motorcycle to pose for pictures.

Officer Nate Totorica helps children don police gear during National Night Out in Santa Maria on Tuesday night. Click to view larger
Officer Nate Totorica helps children don police gear during National Night Out in Santa Maria on Tuesday night.  (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

"Now get off before you fall off," his wife Joann Green said after snapping a photo of her husband posing with a police officer.

The 2016 event comes after the first month of the year saw six homicides in Santa Maria, with one other fatal shooting July 4 and following a especially violent end of 2015.

Arrests have been made for many of those slayings. 

Several organizations, including the Recreation and Parks Department, local law enforcement, fire, military, and medical response professionals, provided demonstrations and activities, letting youngsters crawl into vehicles, learn CPR and meet those who provide other services. 

The Santa Maria event, presented by the Santa Maria Police Department, Recreation and Parks Department and PLAY, Inc. (People for Leisure And Youth, Inc.), also included free refreshments, youth activities, vendors, and more.

In Lompoc, a three-hour event occurred at 320 North J St., the former home of El Camino Middle School.

The celebration also included free food, games and music, as well as a petting zoo and bounce houses.

Community members also were able to meet Lompoc police officers and learn about some the tools they use on the job.

Lompoc residents who stayed until the end of Tuesday’s event had a chance to win a new bicycle.

Started in 1984, National Night Out aims to promote crime prevention activities, while building partnerships with law enforcement and local communities. The event is now celebrated by more than 37 million people in more than 16,000 communities throughout all 50 states.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Folklorico dancers from El Camino Middle School perform during National Night Out in Santa Maria. Click to view larger
Folklorico dancers from El Camino Middle School perform during National Night Out in Santa Maria.  (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

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