Las Piedras scene of SPPD
Day in the Park with Chief celebration

August 14, 2015
Santa Paula News

It will be a Day in the Park with Police Chief Steve McLean for the whole family where they’ll enjoy games, activities, live music and interacting with law enforcement while having a fun time.

The Day in the Park will be held August 22, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Las Piedras Park, 451 N. 13th St. 

Calla Dominguez, coordinator of the Las Piedras Park Police Storefront and SPPD Cadet Martha Reynolds-Brown are coordinating the second celebration; the first Day in the Park was held in 2013.

Dominguez said, “We’re going to have a 24-foot high rock wall, pie throwing and watermelon eating contests, face painting, piñatas, two bounce houses, table games and prizes for the kids, and other activities.”

The popular Juano & Friends Band will play for the entire event, “A huge block party where residents can meet and interact with the chief, police officers, reserve officers, Explorers, cadets, Citizens Patrol…we’re even trying to have McGruff,” the popular crime-fighting dog visit the park so he can demonstrate how “he takes a bite out of crime” for the kids.

Dominguez said snacks will be available and the day will offer “other surprises” that the whole family will enjoy.

The event will also offer visitors a chance to become familiar with the Storefront: “You’d be surprised how many people don’t know this building is up here,” said Dominguez who has been the coordinator since the Storefront opened in 1998.

“Seventeen years,” she noted, “and I’ve been here the whole time…”

The Storefront is the clearinghouse for multiple programs and activities as well as the place to get information and referrals to social service agencies. It is used for meetings and provides SPPD Officers patrolling the area to drop in, work on some paperwork or just visit residents in the neighborhood often plagued with crime.

The Day in the Park is a way to encourage more interaction between police and the residents that rely on help to stop or solve crimes.

“When people have a chance to visit with the police and the chief in a relaxed, fun atmosphere they feel more comfortable around them,” which Dominguez said builds confidence and trust.

“At the last Day in the Park we had the adults and kids walk up to the officers and shake hands with them…they were more receptive,” to one another.

“It was nice,” she noted.

And promoting that kind of a relationship between police and residents is also mutually beneficial: “It helps people become more comfortable and proactive about  calling the police if they see something they think is wrong…”

Reynolds-Brown said fun is a great way to know someone: “We’ll have three-legged races, a photo booth with funny hats and props for the kids to get dressed up and other surprises.”

She noted that the SPPD appreciates the support it has received from sponsors: “We’ve been very fortunate…some things have been donated and others have been reducing their prices for us, giving us great deals,” for the Day in the Park.

For more information, call Dominguez at 933-0701.

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