It was a chance for the Lompoc community to come together and get up close and personal with the men and women who serve in local law enforcement and public safety.
“I think its great because it brings the community together”, says Lompoc resident Kenia Herrera who brought her three and two year old sons to the National Night Out venue at the former El Camino Middle School on J Street, “my son loves the firemen and the fire trucks and the policemen, he’s obsessed.”
“It’s awesome”, says local resident and mother Jessica Boughamer, “I think that its really good for the community and there’s a lot of people that can come and check it out, its really nice that they put something on like this.”
In addition to the Lompoc Police Department, other public safety agencies that were represented included the Lompoc Fire Department, Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, California Highway Patrol and Vandenberg Air Force Base Police and K-9 units.
The mood was decidedly festive with a focus on fun and families.
“Coming together, enjoying a hot dog, laughing together, seeing everyone’s kids eating cotton candy, hanging out with the firemen and policemen, I think that builds bridges rather than walls and lets us understand each other more”, says Pastor Bernie Federmann with the Lompoc Foursquare Church which provided most of the volunteers serving the free food, “by the way, at the end of the day all we want is to be valued and loved and everybody to have a good time and be safe and I think that’s what this kind of event does for us.”
At a time when the country is confronted with unprecedented violence against law enforcement, National Night Out serves as a refreshing reminder of all that unites a community and those men and women who serve it.
“Its important so that way the kids don’t see us in bad terms”, says Lompoc Police Officer David Magana who organized this year’s event, “with so much negativity that’s going in the media nowadays or they’re reading on social media, Facebook, things like that, they need to see that we’re just people that are part of the community, we need to strengthen the bond in the community, you know, we’re all in this together.”
“I love it, I really like dealing with the kids, that’s why I signed up for Community Services”, Officer Magana says, “its what I signed up for, protecting these kids, showing them that police are people too, I don’t like seeing when kids get scared of police officers.”
The National Night Out event in Lompoc could not happen without the support and sponsorship of local businesses that donate the food, beverages, games, prizes and other entertainment.