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O’siders stake their claim on parks at night

OCEANSIDE — National Night Out was held Aug. 4, in cities across the United States to empower residents to take a stand against crime and build more positive relationships with local police.
“It’s to get the community out so they do not just see us when something bad is going on, but see us as a resource,” Dulci Fish, Oceanside crime prevention specialist, said.
Oceanside celebrated National Night Out in three locations — Melba Bishop Recreation Center, Joe Balderrama Recreation Center and Mottino Family YMCA. Family activities were geared to bring the community out and instill ownership of local parks.
“It’s a good idea to be out like a family,” Tony Cervantes, an Oceanside dad of three, said. “We spend time with them, but not often in the park.”
“It shows that the park is a place for everybody to enjoy,” Maria Russell, president of the Eastside Neighborhood Association, said.
Barbecues, a canine demonstration, an outdoor movie, and face painting were some of the ways neighborhood groups and police found to connect and have fun.
“They can have a look in the police car and fire truck and talk to us about our job,” Kedrick Sadler, Oceanside police officer and canine handler, said. “We can show them dogs are really good tools to protect the community and police officers, and take suspects into custody in the safest way possible.”
National Night Out provides an opportunity for police to clear up misconceptions people have about the role of police.
“It’s the kind of program we need,” Cervantes said. “Kids can think the police are kind of bad. This helps them learn they’re there to help the community.”
“We can have a good time on a positive note,” Sadler said. “And they can learn more about what we do to protect them.”
Oceanside police work year-round to build and maintain positive relationships with residents. Out of the 27 neighborhoods located in Oceanside, Oceanside police are regularly invited to and attend the meetings of 20 Neighborhood Watch groups.