Police officers and residents in Brookings and Gold Beach gathered at separate National Night Out events Tuesday that focused on the development and promotion of crime prevention programs.
It also provided opportunities for neighbors to meet neighbors and residents to meet members of their local police departments.
Gold Beach Police Chief Dixon Andrews, has his own personal gauge when it comes to measuring how receptive Gold Beach residents are to toward its public servants. He shared it during National Night Out at Buffington Park.
It’s called the “hot dog-hamburger index” and, according to Andrews, and it goes something like this.
“The first year we held our National Night Out event — two years ago — we served 90 burgers. Last year? 130. Tonight? We are looking at 169 burgers and 90 hot dogs!” he said.
Dixon excused himself long enough to help a mentally disabled man find a seat at a nearby picnic table.
“Tonight is about service, about your police department reaching out and making contact with the community — our community.”
Red plastic fire hats hugged the heads of excited kids who took turns climbing into the driver’s seat of a Gold Beach fire truck. They also took turns blasting the truck’s loud air horn.
Dixon said National Night Out is designed to increase public awareness about police programs in areas such as drug prevention, town watch, neighborhood watch, and other crime- prevention measures.
He said residents might be surprised to learn that the number one “crime problem” is invited by the citizens upon themselves.
“It’s car clouts and we (the public) make it easy because Gold Beach is such a Mayberry-type of closed- knit community,” he explained. “We don’t bother to lock our vehicles. Not only that, we leave wallets, purses, cell phones, and check books out in plain sight.”
“Gold Beach is a great, caring, community. We just need to be a little smarter when it comes to safeguarding our possessions,” he said. “A simple thing like locking your car door or house really helps a lot.”
Gold Beach Mayor Karl Popoff was busy flipping burgers while City Councilor Tammy Kaufman placed cheese on buns. The food was donated by local supermarkets Ray’s Food Place and McKays, Franz bakeries and Frito Lay, Inc.. The city donated resources, and publicity came from KGBR, the Curry Coastal Pilot and the Curry County Reporter.
Courtney Jones, 9, had a tight grip on the large steering wheel of the big fire truck. The title “Junior Firefighter” was emblazoned across the front of her helmet.
A future firefighter?
She nodded her head up and down, smiled and then blasted the fire truck’s horn.
Various public safety agencies from Curry and Del Norte counties showed up to participate in National Night Out in Brookings.
With hot dogs, chips, drinks, fire trucks, police cars, ambulances, a sheriff’s boat, a Humvee and a K-9 unit demonstration, local police officers and firefighters got the opportunity to interact with members of the communities they serve.
The Brookings Police Department, Brookings Fire Department, Curry County Sheriff’s Department, Crescent City Fire Department, Oregon State Police, Coos Forest Patrol and Cal-Ore life flight were all represented.
Casey Dichter, a reserve volunteer for the Brookings Police Department, serves as primary decoy for the K-9 unit, wearing a special suit made in the Netherlands that allows him to withstand bites from the dogs.
“This suit is awesome,” Dichter said, “The dogs used to be able to bite through the old one.”
Officers also showed a dog that can detect and sniff out drugs.
“The dog is trained to smell marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin,” said officer John McKinney.
The event was a success, with many people showing up to meet with the people who help keep their communities safe. Last year it was held in Crescent City, and the event is rotated between the two cities.