Police, Community Celebrate Night Out
TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KLIX) – Dozens of local law enforcement officers were at City Park on Tuesday. They weren’t there to give up out any tickets – but they did offer free hot dogs and meet members of the community.
The event was Night Out, a national event that has been held locally for the past six years. By 5 p.m. when the three-hour event started, citizens already were visiting the different booths set up in the park.
The crowd grew larger as the evening wore on, some who heard about the event beforehand and brought their children to meet a police officer or firefighter; others, like Twin Falls resident Lisa McLinn, saw the activities and stopped to ask questions and get information.
“I saw the crowd and decided to check it out,” McLinn said, noting that she was excited to see so many law enforcement agencies involved. “I think this is an important thing for the community."
She picked up several pamphlets before she left – but not before her boy visited the bounce house. She said her son liked visiting the firefighters best.
Resident Chelsea Tucker also brought her children to the park. Their favorite was meeting Police Chief Craig Kingsbury and sitting on a police motorcycle.
It was Tucker’s first time to Night Out, but she said she’ll come again next year.
Officer J.P. O’Donnell, who helped organize the event, said Night Out is a way for local law enforcement to foster relationships with community members, demonstrate equipment and vehicles, and answer questions.
National Night Out started in Philadelphia in 1984 and has been held in Twin Falls since 2010. It’s an event that will continue locally, he said.
We have a very supportive community," says Officer J.P. O'Donnell. "It’s pretty humbling when people come out and thank us for our service, for doing our jobs.
Some of the attention grabbers at the park were the Bomb Squad’s robot, equipment by the county’s SWAT team, and items displayed by the Twin Falls Crime Lab.
Sgt. Dave Benefiel with the Twin Falls County Sheriff’s Office enjoyed flying a drone and explained how his office uses them in search and rescue missions. Of the three drones on display, the largest cost some $25,000 and paid for with grant money. It can be set on a grid pattern and fly autonomously for up to an hour. It also can be controlled manually.
He’s still learning how to fly that drone, he said.
Patti Rohweder, a community service officer with the Twin Falls Police Department, explained about the many things involved when investigating crime scenes. At the Crime Lab’s booth she showed children hand molds, footprints, and police tape.
Kingsbury, wearing his police chief’s hat, had pictures taken with children and some adults. He also answered questions from residents who inquired about noise ordinances, gang issues, and other topics of concern.
There also were four-legged friends at the park.
Police Officer Clint Doerr and his dog, a 2-year-old German shepherd named Brock, drew the attention of kids and their parents. Brock, a friendly dog that seemed as infatuated with a little girl as she was with him, seemed to like the crowds. The girl laughed as Brock welcomed her with his wet nose and a dog’s kiss.
Brock works as a drug dog for the police department. At night he goes home with his master. He is one of three dogs used by the department. Doerr said training in the field with other handers and their dogs, which happens on a continual basis, is always fun.
Fun is what the night was all about, O’Donnell said. Target, which is the corporate sponsor of the national event, cooked up the hot dogs. Visitors took their plates to the park’s benches or sat under shade trees.
Several community officials attended the event, including members of the City Council.
O’Donnell said he was pleased with the turnout, had fun meeting area residents, and looks forward to next year’s community Night Out. The event is held every year on the first Tuesday in August.
“We have a very supportive community,” he said. “It’s pretty humbling when people come out and thank us for our service, for doing our jobs. It kind of helps us put faith back into humanity.”