SEBASTIAN – National Night Out in Sebastian spread throughout Riverview Park offering residents a chance to learn more about numerous law enforcement agencies and how to stay safe.
For three years, the Riker family has attended the annual event for the community awareness and safety tips.
“It’s great to see” more people coming out to the event, Marianne Riker said with 3-year-old Ryan and 1-year-old Shelby in tow.
All smiles, Shelby and Ryan met McGruff the Crime Dog – but when McGruff reached out a large brown paw to shake hands, the kids quickly turned shy, drawing chuckles from those around them.
This year’s National Night Out attracted approximately 500 residents – a good showing, according to Sebastian Police Chief Micelle Morris.
“It just seems to get bigger and bigger every year,” she said.
New this year were officers from the Fellsmere Police Department and the Florida East Coast Railway Police Department.
Fellsmere’s police department attended because their “National Night Out” event will be held in October, when the weather isn’t supposed to be so hot or unpredictable.
Also in attendance, showing off their tools of the law enforcement trade were Border Patrol, the Coast Guard, Florida Highway Patrol, the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office, the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration Customs Enforcement, and even some businesses that have ties to crime prevention or recovery.
Sebastian Police Officer Steve Marcinik, who helped organize this year’s National Night Out event, said he had 34 different booths registered to both law enforcement agencies and local businesses.
“Everyone here has an association with criminal prevention,” Officer Marcinik said.
The Indian River Indoor Sportsman Shooting Range was there to sell gunlocks, safes and personal safety devices; financial groups were on hand to discuss loans available for safety upgrades to homes or car loans to buy safer vehicles; and even Anytime Fitness was there to promote exercise as a way to better fight off would-be attackers.
Officer Marcinik said that this is the first time that the Sebastian Police Department’s National Night Out event has attracted so many different law enforcement agencies and community businesses.
“The point is, we all work together,” he said.
For the Riker family, National Night Out serves as a way for the children to meet members of law enforcement in a friendly atmosphere.
“What do we say – is safety first, second or third?” Marianne Riker asked Ryan. Instead of responding, he buried his head in his mother’s side.
Laughing, Riker said, “Safety first.”