LocationAlhambra , CA
When the Alhambra Police Department closes the Bay and Commonwealth entrances to First Street on Tuesday, August 6, it won’t be to handle suspected illegal activity. It will be to welcome community members, expected to number about 1,500, to the 24th annual “Night Out Against Crime,” one of the department’s efforts to connect with residents in a relaxed and family-friendly atmosphere.
The event will include a free picnic, including barbecuing by the Alhambra Fire Department. There will be face-painting for kids, carnival games, photo booths and free merchandise giveaways from Alhambra businesses. The event is supported by the city administration, Alhambra Police Foundation and Alhambra Fire Department. National Night Out takes place in more than 16,000 communities across the country.
Along with the festive activities, the Police Department will offer tours of the station and demonstrate some of its field operations.
One demonstration will be a “felony stop,” described as a high-risk maneuver by Sgt. Carlos Donato. An officer makes a felony stop when he suspects that a vehicle that has been pulled over was involved in a serious crime or if it was stolen. The suspects are taken from the vehicle at gunpoint and from a distance, according to Donato. As a department watch sergeant, he supervises police activities and answers service calls made by the public.
Donato said the “felony stop” is regularly practiced in order to minimize risk to both suspects and officers. This demonstration on Tuesday is intended to give the public an opportunity to understand some of the measures police take to ensure safety, especially in high-risk situations.
Jessica Cuchilla, a Crime Prevention Specialist in the department’s COPPS office, short for Community Oriented Policing Problem Solving, said community events like Night Out Against Crime are intended to build trust with Alhambra’s residents. “We need the community to be able to trust us and come to us whenever they have a concern and they need the police,” she said.
The department also organizes events such as Burger with a Cop and Coffee with a Cop and works on community projects, including Neighborhood Watch, an Explorer program with teenagers and the Community Academy. “Working together helps keep Alhambra safe. The community are our eyes and ears out there,” said Cuchilla. This effort to engage the community seems necessary especially when you compare Alhambra’s 2019 crime rates to 2018.
According to the June Crime Statistics report released by the Alhambra Police Department, there has been an 11% increase in the number of arrests this year. In 2018 there were 840 arrests while in 2019 there have already been 936 arrests. With five more months left in this year, the number of arrests are sure to increase.
Another statistic from the report is the number of Calls of Service made by the Alhambra Police Department. A Call of Service is defined as any request received by the public that requires a police response. The total number of service calls from 2018 was 24,345 while in 2019 that number now stands at 25,173, which illustrates a large jump in calls for service from residents of the city.
In an email to the Alhambra Source, Alhambra Mayor Adele Andrade-Stadler said she is looking forward to the community engagement element of the event. As a longtime Neighborhood Watch captain, Andrade-Stadler said she believes the event is a learning opportunity for the public. “This evening allows us to share with our neighbors and chat with law enforcement about safety measures and best practices for keeping us all safe,” she said.
Although the program will be delivered predominantly in English, officers will be on hand to translate to Spanish and Mandarin and Cantonese. To learn more about Alhambra Police Department’s “Night Out Against Crime” event, visit their event page or call (626) 570-5151 for more information.