AP NEWS

Ellensburg celebrates National Night Out

August 2, 2017 GMT

Hundreds of community members gathered with family, friends and children to fill the 100 block of North Pearl Street for National Night Out, an annual event with local police departments nationwide, which helps build relationships with the community.

Ellensburg Police Department Capt. Dan Hansberry said though the event is a chance for the community to get together and have fun, the night serves another purpose.

“It’s really first and foremost about child safety,” Hansberry said. “So inside we have several booths with safety information for kids and we have a child identification kit.”

The child identification kit allows parents to collect their children’s fingerprints and DNA, to be used in case of emergency.

“It’s just one of those safeguards that you have at home,” Hansberry said. “Hopefully you’ll never have to pull it out of the drawer, but if for some reason you did, you’d already have that information.”

LOCATION

Ellensburg’s National Night Out took place at the police department’s public safety building on Pearl Street for the third year in a row.

Hansberry said the event was previously held in city parks, but when the fire department moved out of the public safety building, police officials decided to have an open house at the station to give people a look inside. The city recently announced a plan to remodel the building with a budget limit of $5 million.

“The community can really see for themselves, what’s going on here and what the vacant space really does look like,” Hansberry said.

Hansberry said with the police department moving forward with the design for updating the current public safety building, the department may have to reassess where to have next year’s National Night Out.

FUN FOR THE KIDS

Community member Mayra Colazo has attended Ellensburg’s National Night Out every year and said her favorite part of the event is seeing how happy it makes her 4-year-old daughter, Azul Elizondo.

“She really enjoys meeting with the cops and getting to ride their vehicles,” Colazo said. “She’s smiling all the time, wanting to get into this car and then another one. I think that’s what makes it fun.”

Colazo said an important part of the event was receiving the child identification kit.

“I think the best thing is getting her fingerprints … that’s really important,” Colazo said. “It’s amazing for the community and for all the kids.”

FUN FOR THE OFFICERS

Hansberry said one of his favorite parts of the event is getting to interact with the community.

“I love being able to talk with people and kids,” Hansberry said. “This is just a fun environment. Who doesn’t like this?”

Hansberry said that part of what makes the event so fun is that people are in a light-hearted mood.

“You know, at these kinds of events, people leave their political agendas aside,” Hansberry said. “We’re not here to preach anything. It’s just a time to communicate and meet people.”