O.C. cities to put police, fire units on display

By LOU PONSI / THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

Orange County residents needn't be concerned if they come across a confluence of police cars, SWAT vehicles, fire trucks and police dogs at their local shopping center Tuesday evening.

Chances are the collection of public safety vehicles are being displayed for the National Night Out (NNO), a national public safety awareness campaign aimed at crime prevention through community outreach.

Police and fire agencies in several cities are staging family friendly events featuring a variety of displays and activities. Many will offer free child fingerprinting kits and provide information on neighborhood watch programs.

In Placentia, members of the Orange County Fire Authority, North County SWAT and detectives from the city's police gang unit will be available for questions. McGruff, the Crime Dog, will join the department's real canine unit at the Placentia Town Center from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Information will also be provided on water conservation and the city's Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program, said Maureen Becerra, Crime Prevention Specialist with Placentia Police Department.

"It is an opportunity to meet with the community and provide resources for them," she said. "Parents might be concerned about their kids going sideways and they can talk to detectives about how to avoid that situation."

At the Mission Viejo event, which takes place from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Norman P. Murray Community and Senior Center, the public can get information on internet safety and the UC Irvine Center of Excellence on Elder Abuse and Neglect will also have a display.

The Tustin event, which runs from 6 to 9 p.m. at the District shopping center, will feature live music and include participation from Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Orange County and the Mariposa Women and Family Center.

Santa Ana's National Night Out takes place from 4 to 7 p.m. at Davis Elementary School and features "Officer Byrd," a live blue and gold macaw trained to perform safety-teaching tricks.

Brea is hosting its event for the first time, also from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Brea Marketplace.

National Night Out programs are generally held the first Tuesday in August but some cities host the event on other days.

Aliso Viejo will host its from 5 to 8 p.m. on Aug. 10 at the Aliso Viejo Target Center.

The National Night Out campaign, which began 27 years ago, is sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch, a non-profit that focuses on crime prevention programs.

More than 36 million people in all 50 states participated in 2009.

"I'm really excited about it and want to build on it," Becerra said. "Hopefully, all the cities will have a great turnout."

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