While traveling around Riverbank on the evening of Tuesday, Aug. 4 people may have noticed a caravan of Riverbank Police Services (RPS) Sheriff vehicles, Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District (SCFPD) fire trucks, and others maneuvering their way to businesses and neighborhoods within the city limits for the annual National Night Out (NNO) festivities.
Communities in all 50 states participate in National Night Out the first Tuesday in August to encourage the camaraderie between law enforcement agencies and members of the community that build partnerships with the residents. This campaign involved different agencies including civic groups, neighborhood organizations, local government officials, and many more to heighten crime and drug prevention awareness, participation in local anti-crime programs, strengthen neighborhood and police partnerships, and to send a message to the criminals that neighborhoods are organized and will fight back.
“National Night Out was a great opportunity for everyone to get together and remember that we all benefit more as a community when we communicate directly with each other and work fluidly as a team,” stated Police Chief Erin Kiely. “Police Services simply cannot function as well without the support of the citizens we serve.”
The convoy made its way through neighborhoods within Riverbank that included Castleberg Park, Ray Safreno Park, Lorenzo Zerillo Park, Crossroads shopping center in front of Petco, Heritage Manor Drive, Creekbend Drive, Buckskin Way, and the final stop at Allegiance Court.
Representatives of the city council, police services, Stanislaus Consolidated Fire District, ambulance, alarm companies and others split into two teams to cover the eight neighborhoods around town between 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Some areas held picnics or barbecues while others just came out to see the assembly of vehicles and people.
“This year some turnouts were very small and some were quite large,” added Kiely.
All participants in the convoy, both teams, gathered together at the final stop on Allegiance Court, which several citizens attended and had several festivities like an inflatable water slide, arcade games, and a popcorn machine for all to enjoy.
Riverbank resident, Allegiance Court organizer, Irene Gomez expressed that there were approximately 100 people that attended the block party, which was a little less than what they had the year before.
“The waterslide is always a hit with the children and of course, the Sheriff’s department, fire trucks, and K-9 are the stars of the show.” stated Gomez. “I really do love this neighborhood and I think it’s important to get to know your neighbors.
“I remember growing up in a neighborhood in Tracy where everyone knew each other, watched out for each other, and borrowing something was not a big deal. I worry that we are losing that by staying inside our homes and being glued to a computer or phone screen, we no longer know who our neighbors are.”
Dave Lake and other members of the Rotary Club of Riverbank had a tent set up and offered guests cookies and some refreshing lemonade.
City Council members, Mayor Richard O’Brien, Vice Mayor Darlene Barber-Martinez, Councilmember Cal Campbell, Councilmember Leanne Jones Cruz, and Councilmember Jeanine Tucker were on scene socializing with residents along with the different service agencies.
“Fire Department got a call towards the end of their visit, so they had to back out of a busy street, and left with lights and sirens at full blast, and the neighbors applauded as they sped away,” said Gomez. “National Night Out is an opportunity to see each other face to face and say hi, even if just once a year.”
National Night Out is a yearly activity that helps promote Neighborhood Watch, which is a program of systematic local vigilance by residents of an area to discourage crime, especially burglary.
Along with the traditional display of outdoor lights, front porch vigils, block parties like the NNO are celebrated with food and socializing, with picnics, ice cream socials and the like.
“Riverbank Police Services was joined this year by the Riverbank Mayor and City Council Members, Riverbank Police Services Motor Units and K-9 “Rocky”, Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District (Station 36), Petco, Oak Valley Ambulance, ADT and others,” said Kiely. “We would like to thank everyone who participated in this event.”
News Correspondent Ric McGinnis contributed to this report.