Snakes, K-9s and hot dogs big hit at Vero Night Out

By Lisa ZahnerVERO BEACH — Despite the cloudy sky threatening rain at Riverside Park, about 150 people showed up at the Second Annual Vero Beach National Night out to mingle with officers and to learn more about what police, fire and Sheriff’s office personnel do every dayThe national event is designed to raise awareness about crime prevention and get residents acquainted with the public safety officers and support staff who serve their community. “It’s good for people to see the police officers in person, it gives that hometown feeling,” said public information officer John Morrison of the Vero Beach PD. “Out here, they can ask questions that they might not call us to ask and they can find out about all the different programs such as neighborhood watch and our RAD Kids programs where we teach kids how not to get abducted and what to do if someone tries.”Animal Control Officer Bruce Dangerfield brought some of his creepy, crawly friends along to show kids and adults some examples of harmless snakes that are often mistaken for venomous species. He also brought pictures of snakes that residents should be wary of such as the coral snake.”A lot of people think the only good snake is a dead snake, but these are indigenous and they really keep the mice and rats under control and people should just leave them alone,” said Dangerfield, who has been with the Vero Beach PD’s Animal Control division for 10 years. “The County handles dogs and cats and I handle everything else with fur, feathers and scales. We get about 20 to 30 calls a week.”Indentification experts demonstrated how fingerprints are taken and investigated and they also provided a set of fingerprints of children and a photo ID kit for parents who wanted them. The K-9 unit demonstrated training methods and how the dogs assist officers in the field with searches. Officers cooked and served free hot dogs and sodas to those who showed up.Though the event was hosted by the Vero Beach Police Department, is was supported by the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office and the Indian River County Fire Rescue Dive team from a nearby fire station who brought fire hats and coloring books for the children.Morrison said the event also gives his officers and those of the other agencies a chance to meet local residents in a setting outside the business of public safety.”It feels good for us to get out with the people, to interact and to let them know that we do care,” he said.

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