A group of residents got a jump on National Night Out by visiting Riverbank Police Services deputies Monday morning with prayer, words of thanks and a variety of food and beverages.
Operation Thank a Deputy was spearheaded by resident Amanda Lowell and included donations – hot coffee, bottled water, breakfast pastries and a variety of snacks – from businesses and residents. The effort, involving a group of about 18 residents, was pulled together on the Facebook closed-group page Riverbank Crossroads and Adjacent.
“We love Riverbank,” Lowell said. “Our house got ransacked the week before Christmas, and we had less than a two-minute response from officers and detectives, and they were amazing.
“It couldn’t have happened at a worse time, but thankfully with them, we really don’t ever want to leave Riverbank. I’d love to be closer to my family, but we’d never get the response and the community we get here.”
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Another resident, Cathy Bernardi, told the deputies and support staff it was important for the group to visit them because of the climate of police-and-public tension in the nation right now. “Just because you wear a badge, you can be a target of hate,” she said, and Operation Thank a Deputy was a way of letting them and their families know they have a support system in the community.
Scott Grimm, worship and young-adult pastor at Shelter Cove Community Church on Coffee Road in Modesto, led the group in prayer. He said, in part, “I’m grateful every time I see a police cruiser in my neighborhood, just rolling on by. Lord, I have to smile, because I’m filled with a sense of safety, and I thank you for that. Lord, every time I see a deputy interacting with kids in my neighborhood, I smile, because they’re communicating that they’re looking out for us; they’re setting a good example for our children.”
Riverbank Police Services Chief Erin Kiely said his department appreciates the community’s support. “We’re fortunate here in that we police a community we are part of,” he told the group. “We don’t commute in and work here, we live here, our families are here, so we have a real firm understanding of the dynamics of the community (and) how law enforcement plays its part in that.”
He asked the group to spread the word among friends and neighbors to join the city for its National Night Out celebration Tuesday evening in Community Center Park downtown, starting at 6 p.m.
Emergency vehicles will be on display on Seventh Street between Santa Fe and Stanislaus streets. Some of those represented at the gathering will be Riverbank Police Services, a K-9 team, the bomb squad, the dive team, STARS, Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District, probation services, Oakdale Animal Control, SpecOps, ADT and Safe Kids.
Attendees can challenge deputies in a water-balloon toss, and everyone attending will have the opportunity to win a bicycle.
The gathering is a new way to observe National Night Out in Riverbank, Kiely said. Previously, two teams from Riverbank Police Services would “rocket out into neighborhoods,” he said, but usually had only 10 to 15 minutes before they had to move on. They’d just be getting into conversations when they’d have to cut them short to stay on schedule, he said.
Communities throughout Stanislaus County will celebrate National Night Out on Tuesday.
In Modesto, about 180 neighborhood events covering hundreds of blocks and including thousand of residents have been registered, said Police Department spokeswoman Heather Graves.
Police personnel, along with city staff, plan to visit the neighborhoods to foster relationships and provide crime prevention tools and techniques, she said.
Deke Farrow: 209-578-2327
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Other Stanislaus County National Night Out events:
- Ceres – The police, fire and recreation departments will host a celebration from 6 to 8 p.m. at Whitmore Park, Third and North streets. Emergency vehicles will be on display, and there will be a K-9 demonstration, free hot dogs, nachos and water. There also will be a jump house, face painting, free flying discs and some Crime Stoppers giveaways. Patrol, detectives, SWAT, dispatch, K-9, traffic, code enforcement and administration will all be on hand.
- Hughson – Neighborhood barbecues, potlucks and other gatherings are held throughout the city. The mayor and City Council members, along with police and fire personnel, other local partners and elected officials, including county Supervisor Vito Chiesa, will participate in the kid-popular caravan of public safety vehicles making its way around town to visit all registered events.
- Oakdale – A celebration, listed online, will be at Burchell Hill Park from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. To learn more, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Patterson – Two groups of Patterson Police Services representatives will visit seven locations between 5 and 7 p.m. The night will end with a block party on South Del Puerto Avenue from 7 to 9 p.m. At that party, a bicycle and two quilts will be awarded in a drawing.
- Turlock – Block parties may receive visits from Turlock police and fire personnel, city officials, McGruff the Crime Dog and Blue Santa.
- Waterford – Gathering to start at 6:30 p.m. at Beard Park, featuring free hot dogs and drinks, visits by first responders and a drawing for a bike.