Somewhere between 800 – 1,000 people attended the carnival-themed block party hosted last Tuesday by the Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD) in front of the Public Safety Facility which was part of the annual “National Night Out” festivities to help curb crime.
This year’s party showcased the police’s new Neighborhood Resource’s Officer (NRO) program that began in January of this year. This community policing program helps “police officers to be more accountable for a geographic area within the City” and “identifies a method for citizens to know which officers are responsible for their location of concern” according to the SMPD’s publication 2007: Year In Review. The goals of the program are now being met by the Police Department assigning a neighborhood resource officer to each of the eight beats that were defined in the City’s new patrol map.
In an interview with the Mirror at the August 5 event, Police Chief Timothy Jackman stated the “payback from these type of events is just huge.” To him this event and the NRO program are “trying to create the old ‘Mayberry – Andy Griffith Show’ effect” because in the show Sheriff Andy Griffith and his Deputy Barney Fife knew the people in their community and related well to them. “That’s the kind of community relations we want as a Police Department.”
Police booths also highlighted other SMPD operations by having officers from their different operations available to answer questions; equipment from said operations, such as motorcycles, were also on display. Eight-year-old Spencer Gonzales told the Mirror that trying out the equipment “was extremely cool.”
Santa Monica’s Fire Department also participated by having several booths and fire trucks for the community to visit. Fire Chief Jim Hone explained to the Mirror “We benefit any time we can interact with out community. Public safety is more than just one City department. The Police and Fire departments work together to create a safe environment” in Santa Monica.
The SMPD’s Community Relations Crime Prevention Officer, Renaldi Thruston also spoke with the Mirror and mentioned that the event gives his department an opportunity to interact with the community and a chance “to take back our streets” from the criminals by helping to foster a better police/community partnership. He wants to remind everyone in the community to “remember to stay safe, not to be afraid to interact with the Police Department and not to be afraid to report crime to the Police Department.”
More information about the event and the Police Department can be found at santamonicapd.org or by calling 310.458.8474.