With another National Night Out in the books, local police officers say it was a rousing success.
“It was awesome,” said Sargent Cuong Phan of the Santa Clara Police Department (SCPD). “For a lot of the newer guys and for a lot of the older guys, they all said, ‘It was such a breath of fresh air for me. I really need a dose of humanity.’ They really enjoyed it.”
Nearly 2,500 people in 54 neighborhoods across Santa Clara registered to participate. That’s three more neighborhoods in Santa Clara than last year.
Officers visited each of those neighborhoods, spending time with the residents and getting to know them.
“For us it’s just very important to remind the community that we can’t do this without them,” said Sargent Phan. “I always say, the criminals are only one percent of the population that we deal with, we really need to focus on the 99 percent of people that support us. We tend to forget about that portion because we’re always addressing the fear of crime. It’s a great reminder to know that our citizens really support us, they trust us and that we truly do work together.”
Phan remembers a number of stops, including one on Briarcliff Court, where he met Joseph Crisafulli.
“It was his eightieth birthday. He was a Vietnam War naval pilot,” said Phan. “We all went to celebrate his birthday. He was extremely flabbergasted by our support and just by our presence.”
Sunnyvale’s Department of Public Safety (DPS) also participated in National Night Out. 22 neighborhoods registered to participate in this year’s event, compared to 16 last year.
Sunnyvale DPS officers rose to the challenge. A good portion of the department turned out including all of the command staff and the entire Crime Prevention Unit. A number of employees slated to work the graveyard shift came into work early to take part.
“This is kind of like the core of what we do,” said Lieutenant Jose Ramirez of Sunnyvale DPS. “People have to realize and look beyond the badge and beyond the uniform and to realize that we’re just normal citizens that want to make a difference.”
Lieutenant Ramirez says the officers love the opportunity to get to know members of the community.
“It kind of breaks down the barriers; they just get a chance to know you over some soda and a hot dog,” said Ramirez. “They start talking to you…Now they have a face with that name…Kind of like that old school type of police mentality when officers used to walk to the beat.”
And there’s a huge benefit not just to the officers, but to the entire community.
“They see something suspicious around the neighborhood they’re more opt to call [their neighbor] or text them or call 911 to report something,” said Ramirez. “It’s just having more eyes on the street and being more familiar with one another.”
National Night Out happens on the first Tuesday of every August. It started more than two decades ago and has grown every year since. It’s designed to improve relationships between the community and police officers.
For more details on how to register your neighborhood for next year, visit www.natw.org.