The Pacific Beach Neighborhood Watch will host its first-ever Crime and Safety event prior to the 4 p.m. Siers Brothers concert, Sunday, Aug. 5 at Kate Sessions Park, 5115 Soledad Road.
The public is invited to see demonstrations from specialized police units such as K9 and SWAT, as well as pose for photo ops with fire and police equipment. It’s a rare occasion to learn what it takes to fight crime daily and protect the community.
“One of our goals is to educate people about exactly what police do to bring down the barriers between police and community,” said Marcella Teran, PB Neighborhood Watch coordinator. “The Crime and Safety event will bring the community face-to-face with the police for an opportunity to ask police questions and find out on a personal level what they do.”
The Crime and Safety event is an outgrowth of the National Night Out, an event highlighting local police held the first Tuesday of every August across the country. According to Teran, PB Neighborhood Watch had been organizing the local National Night Out annually at the library with lackluster attendance, so she discussed ways of generating greater turnout with fellow organizer Andie LaComb.
“We talked about having it at another location,” Teran said. “We wanted to reach more of the community and the summer Concerts on the Green at Kate Sessions Park draw a lot of people.”
The Pacific Beach Town Council, which manages the concert series, accepted Neighborhood Watch’s overture to join them because the two groups have often worked closely together to support first-responders, according to PB Town Council vice president Brian White.
“It all ties in,” he said. “Anywhere we can collaborate with Neighborhood Watch and promote what they’re doing is beneficial for the community. They were looking for a high-visibility venue and, hopefully, this will give them more exposure.”
The Crime and Safety event begins at 3 p.m., one hour prior to the 4 p.m. concert, and will feature a demonstration by the K9 unit from 3:10 to 3:30 p.m. and a SWAT team presentation from 3:40 to 4 p.m. Police officers will be on hand for a meet-and-greet, while attendees can take photos next to a vintage police vehicle as well as a fire truck from Station 21.
In addition, an interactive self-defense demonstration for children and teens will be held on stage by local martial arts school Red Dragon Shou Shu during the concert’s intermission.
Signs will be visible directing concert-goers to the Crime and Safety event at the top of hill where the park’s flagpole and washrooms are located. Refreshments will be available from food truck vendors.
Among the participating community groups, the San Diego Police Foundation will be operating a booth focusing on Internet safety for children, a version of the lecture they bring to schools. According to Kristen Amicone, Police Foundation director of education and technology, the event was a perfect fit for their mission.
“We encourage people to get involved in some way; whatever they can do to support the men and women in blue,” Amicone said. “The Neighborhood Watch groups do what they can do to support the police. They are really the first line of defense for the police department.”
Founded in 1998 by then-police chief Jerry Sanders, the Police Foundation helps police with funding operational expenses that go beyond the annual budget, along with other work promoting law enforcement.
Since first awarding grants 17 years ago, the Police Foundation has provided more than $6 million to the San Diego Police Department, Amicone said. The money has been used to purchase items such as specialized software for police computers, microscopes for the police crime lab, and all the dogs used in the K9 unit.
Toward the last item, the group will hold a Gold Shield Gala at the Hilton Bayfront on Sept. 22.
The Police Foundation is also focused on raising funds to buy military-grade armor for police against the massive firepower now available to everyone, including criminals.
Amicone said attending the Crime and Safety event should help create more awareness of the hurdles facing police, and prompt people to take more steps in providing support. “Just knowing that information and spreading it is impactful,” she said.