Faces and Places: National Night Out in East Sacramento

A heavily armored SWAT vehicle pulls up in front of an East Sacramento craftsman house. There’s also a fire truck, a police car, and an officer strolling the sidewalk with a police dog. Yes, it’s the canine unit. More than fifty people mill about on the lawn. Is there a spectacular crime in progress? No, this is National Night Out, an evening when people all over the city gather to chat with friends, introduce themselves to new neighbors, meet their First Responders, and let their kids climb (well supervised) into the fire truck and SWAT car. In this particular event, sponsored by the East Sacramento Preservation, everyone eats ice cream donated by Compton’s market. City Councilman Jeff Harris is there, as is a representative from the Mayor and two staffers from Assemblyman Kevin McCarty’s office.

Councilman Harris speaks briefly, answers questions. During his remarks new visitors amble over, stay to listen. Firemen speak and pass out fire hats to kids. Of immense interest is the dark, forbidding SWAT car. Officer Bevins (David Lubin alumni) discusses its uses, then allows citizens to try on one of the protective vests worn by the SWAT team. The vest is heavy (60lbs), encumbered by gizmos. Someone asks if a female has ever qualified for the SWAT squad. Yes, he says, one has recently retired, another has just qualified. Police Bike Patrol rolls up. Officer Takehara patrols Mercy Hosptial. He’s happy to be out of the cruiser for a while. Officer O’Mallory from the City Police Department speaks next, gives a lot of useful information. He is well received, but the most popular officer of the night has four legs from the canine unit. Better disciplined that some of the humans, he doesn’t scarf down brownies and cupcakes from the dessert table. It’s an unusually cool August evening. Kids clamber over the vehicles, toddlers scurry around, adults sit in lawn chairs or stroll, bottled water is passed out, voices rise and fall, laughter bubbles up, a breeze sweeps by. A perfect National Night Out for neighbors.


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