News

Palo Alto celebrates second annual National Night Out

Nationwide campaign aims to strengthen ties between communities and police

Palo Alto police K-9 Officer Julie Tannock, right, talks about her job and training Bohdan, a 2-year-old German shepherd, at National Night Out on Aug. 6. Photo by Veronica Weber.

The Palo Alto Police Department, Fire Department and the Office of Emergency Services (OES) hosted the second annual National Night Out throughout Palo Alto Tuesday night. The nationwide campaign, which aims to improve community-police relations, was absent from Palo Alto for over a decade until last year, when the Palo Alto police department revived it.

More than 300 community members attended the main block party, held in front of the Palo Alto police headquarters at 275 Forest Ave. Representatives from the Police Department, Fire Department and OES were there to mingle with community members and answer questions. Officers served pizza and distributed an array of prizes such as police-themed mugs and frisbees; emergency supplies like blankets and whistles; and trading cards featuring city officials. Officers also visited 11 neighborhoods that were hosting their own National Night Out block parties.

Palo Alto Police Department Public Affairs Manager Janine De la Vega said that events like this are an important part of maintaining a positive relationship with the community.

"Normally, when you have interactions with police, either you're a victim of a crime or you're a suspect of a crime, or you're getting a traffic ticket or you're a witness to a crime, so it's events like these that really help connect us with our neighbors and the people that we serve," she said.

There were also several vehicles on display, including a fire truck and a police motorcycle for people to view and explore. Children were permitted to try on a pair of boots and a helmet that the firefighters use and climb inside the truck and ring the bell.

"I think it's really cool that the kids get to meet firefighters and police officers and that they get to see the vehicles and climb inside," said Nora Yagolnitser, who attended the event with her two children.

A 2-year-old German shepherd named Bohdan, who joined the K-9 unit last October from the Czech Republic, also joined the party. Police dogs can be trained to perform a variety of tasks, including tracking people, uncovering public safety hazards like bombs or drugs and monitoring medical conditions like low blood sugar and cancer, according to an officer.

Emergency services officers were also on-site to offer tours of the Mobile Emergency Operations Center, which can take on a wide variety of roles, from a 911 dispatch center to a way to provide disaster relief or protect visiting dignitaries.

Emergency Services Chief Ken Dueker said that National Night Out is beneficial for both communities and police officers.

"It's a chance for us to tell our side of the story and show people that we are human, and most of us are doing this job for good, pure reasons, and we want to help people," he said. It also gives officers, especially those who don't live in the community, a chance to connect with the people around them and interact with them outside a law enforcement setting.

"We're part of the community too," he said. "Because it's so expensive to live here, many of our people live far away. It doesn't mean they can't serve the community, it just means they may not know the community like we do, because we're from here."

Dilek Simtk, who brought her daughter to the event, echoed Dueker's sentiment, and said she wanted her daughter to understand that police and firefighters are there to help. "I want to make her familiar with them, not fear them," she said.

While many community members attended the event with their families, others said they stumbled upon it by accident.

"I didn't know how people heard about this, so I guess more advertisement and information around the community could be cool," said Katrina Quo, who lives nearby.

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Comments

1 person likes this
Posted by Gwen Luce
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 7, 2019 at 10:31 am

We had a wonderful National Night Out on our block with Pizza, Pelligrino and doughnut with neighbors aged 5 to 85! Many members of the police department visited - the children were able to sit on the police motor cycle, meet the Chief, other officers, the City Manger and a couple of City Council members! The goody bags were a huge success. Grateful thanks to all!


1 person likes this
Posted by Bob Moss
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 7, 2019 at 11:23 am

Gwen did a great job hosting the event! There were dozens of residents attending including kids and seniors.

Talking to the cops also was interesting. They verified that crime in Barron Park is low, but there are lots of auto break-ins along our stretch of El Camino, and El Camino in general. Even if the thieves are caught they can get out of jail in a day and the penalties are minor, so they go back to doing their break-in business soon after they are released.

Thanks to our high property values only 2 cops live in Palo Alto, and some have to commute over 2 hours to get here to protect us. We should set aside some of the BMR units being included in new housing for police and fire, even though they are too well paid to qualify as BMR occupants. Maybe some of the proposed housing at Cubberly can be set aside for public safety officers, not just teachers.


3 people like this
Posted by Thank you, PAPD
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 7, 2019 at 12:40 pm

We had a fun event in Greenmeadow with a potluck BBQ, ice cream and visits from a large firetruck and a PAPD cruiser. I think the adults enjoyed seeing the equipment and interacting with the officers as much as the kids did. They were patient about answering lots of questions.

Thank you for reaching out and for keeping us all safe, PAFD and PAPD. We are grateful for your important work!


4 people like this
Posted by Howard Kushlan
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 7, 2019 at 1:25 pm

This is so depressing to see. This is called copaganda at its finest. [Portion removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by Ray
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 7, 2019 at 6:07 pm

We had planned to attend but came down with a bug. I wanted to see my pal, Bohdan again. We met him with Office Julie after dinner at an El Camino restaurant. Yes, there can always be a bad apple, but I think that Palo Alto is blessed by having good police officers. If someone is depressed by seeing the City reach out to citizens, I suggest it is more depressing to see someone denigrate the City and Police and other people who look after our safety.


1 person likes this
Posted by Stop Resisting
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 7, 2019 at 9:31 pm

Embrace the law, lest it embrace you!


4 people like this
Posted by Not Naive
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 8, 2019 at 12:51 pm

>> This is so depressing to see. This is called copaganda at its finest.

^^^It's a PR measure on the part of the various PA public safety agencies.

Do you remember when the PAPD used to hand out baseball-style cards to kids?

Firefighters & EMTs are OK. Dealing with the PD is is a double-edged sword...like if/when you have a disagreement with them over an issue.

Then all bets are off despite any goodwill tours/gestures.


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