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National Night Out brings community together

October 4, 2018

BULLHEAD CITY — Members of the local law enforcement and public safety community exchanged smiles, handshakes and high-fives with children and their parents at Wednesday’s National Night Out crime-prevention and awareness event.

“It’s important for us to be involved in the community,” said Lori Viles, public education specialist and public information officer for the Bullhead City Fire Department.

“And to do it in this kind of setting,” added Barbie Skeen, fire inspector-investigator for the BHCFD. “Usually, when we see them, they’re having their worst day. Here, we get to see them having a good day.”

Children — and adults — visited a variety of displays, talked to public safety professionals and got an up-close look at the clothing, equipment and vehicles used by the agencies.

Dexter Avila, 5, was a tad shy after being fingerprinted by members of the Bullhead City Law Enforcement Explorers program.

“He’s done it before,” said his grandmother, Susie Stillabower, “so it’s no big deal for him.”

Julie Crook, forensics specialist for the Bullhead City Police Department, said the fingerprints are given back to the parents or guardians to have on hand in case they are needed.

“We also advise parents to keep a lock of hair and a cheek swab (for DNA-matching purposes),” Crook said. “It’s a precaution.”

The fingerprints and DNA samples can be used by authorities in missing-person cases.

Nationally, 2018 marked the 35th year for the National Night Out initiative. It is the 20th year that the Bullhead City Police Department has been involved and every year, Mohave Electric Cooperative has been a partner.

Wednesday’s event was held at the parking lot outside the MEC Member Service Office on Hancock Road.

“Part of the charter of MEC is to get involved with the community,” said Steve Bouman, energy management specialist at MEC and one of many company representatives on hand Wednesday. Bouman said he has been to 17 of the 20 NNOs sponsored by MEC.

“It’s evolved. It’s changed over the years,” he said, noting that the community has embraced the event. “I’m very pleased with the turnout.”

So was Emily Fromelt, public information officer for the Bullhead City Police Department.

“National Night Out is one big neighborhood watch party,” she said. “The point of tonight is the community-policing partnership. We can’t be everywhere all the time. We need the help of the community, to be our eyes and ears.

“Events like this help foster that relationship.”

Many of the same agencies will be out in the public again soon. The BHC Fire Department will conduct its annual fire prevention and life safety fair Oct. 13 at Bullhead Community Park.

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