At annual community event, the Tustin PD opens its doors for a day to the public

By Jessica Peralta

On Saturday, June 17 the Tustin Police Department opened its doors to the public during the agency’s annual Open House event. The community was invited to come to the department from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for a few hours of food, education and fun. Those in attendance had the opportunity to tour the police department, watch the various demonstrations and interact with the officers.

This was the 21st year the Tustin Police Department has hosted the annual event. Although the temperature was on the high side, it did not stop TPD Chief Charles Celano from walking around and personally interacting with those in attendance.

Tustin PD Officer Eric Kent takes his K9 partner, Riggs, through an obstacle course during the TPD’s open house demonstration on June 17.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

“It’s another way for us to engage our community to humanize our police officers and bridge that gap,” said TPD Chief Charlie Celano. “We’re so blessed in Tustin to have such a supportive community.”

Residents enjoyed complimentary hot dogs and frozen sweet treats – a great relief on this hot day – while walking through the multitude of tents and demonstrations set up over much of the parking area. Scheduled demonstrations took place throughout the event, including Tustin/Irvine SWAT vehicle assault demos, Tustin’s traffic/motorcycle demos, TPD K9 demonstrations and an Orange County Fire Authority “jaws of life” extraction demo.

SWAT officers approach a pickup with a pretend bad guy during a demonstration at the Tustin PD’s open house.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Also throughout the day, the public had the opportunity to take a guided tour throughout the interior of the TPD station. Led by Tustin PD Civilian Manager Mary Novotny, the group of adults and children explored the halls of the station as part of the annual community event designed to open the agency’s doors for a day.

As part of one tour, Novotny took the group to the TPD jail and also pointed out the electronic fingerprint machine.

“If you’ve been arrested in another state, within minutes we’ll have your rap sheet,” she said.

Ricky Miller, 6, of Tustin looks out of the turret of an Irvine SWAT vehicle on display at Tustin PD’s open house.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Beyond the inside of the station, booths included one for the American Red Cross, TPD Special Enforcement Detail, OC GRIP, Therapy Dogs International, TPD’s CSI and more. The agency’s Command Response Center truck also was on display and available for mini-tours.

TPD volunteer Tupua Ioane explained that the vehicle serves as a mobile conference room for major incidents. It is complete with comfortable bench seating, air conditioning, TV screens and whiteboard-paneled interior walls, along with other necessities for incident command.

Tustin PD Motor Officer Ralph Casiello, front, completes with Officer Tim Crouch in an obstacle course competition at TPD’s open house.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

“It’s a conference room for us,” he said.

Back outside, the adjacent side street was blocked off for the various demos, which started with the Tustin/Irvine SWAT vehicle assault demonstration. With the “suspect” driving a white truck, the SWAT team blared the sirens of its truck. SWAT members rode on the back of the truck as one of them instructed the man to come out with his hands up. When the suspect didn’t comply, the team detonated a noise explosive and was able to apprehend the suspect.

With Sgt. Ryan Coe serving as the announcer for the motorcycle demo, Master Officer Ralph Casiello, Master Officer John Hedges and Senior Officer Tim Crouch rode their 750-pound Honda ST 1300s around the orange cone course to show the audience their skills – including a demonstration of the Top Gun competition, requiring one officer to follow another through the cones without knocking one over or putting their foot down.

The crowd cheers during the Tustin PD’s motorcycle demonstration as part of TPD’s open house.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

The K9 demo featured TPD Officer Eric Kent and his 85-pound Dutch shepherd, Riggs, in pursuit of a “suspect” in a white truck (actually an officer serving as a K9 agitator and dressed in a bite suit). The suspect began yelling from the back of his truck, at which point Kent gave Riggs the command to apprehend. And he did.

“Our K9s’ primary role is to respond to critical incidents,” said TPD Officer Jeremy Laurich, serving as the announcer.

Stan Berry shows off part of his police memorabilia collection to Mychael Cabral, 8, of Tustin, during Tustin PD’s open house.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

After the successful mock apprehension, Kent took Riggs, with the dog’s tail wagging, through an obedience drill and obstacle work.

“The dogs must use their abilities to get over a variety of obstacles,” said Laurich. “Riggs does it just to impress his dad.”

At 3 p.m. the crowd had thinned, but based upon the reaction by those who attended many are already looking forward to coming back on June 16, 2018 for the 22nd Annual Tustin PD Open House.

Two-year-old Robert Cruz, of Anaheim, tries on a vintage California police motorcycle helmet, part of Stan Berry’s police memorabilia collection, on display at Tustin PD’s open house.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Tustin PD Officer Zach Swart plays the part of a bad guy (or decoy) for Tustin PD’s K9 Riggs during a TPD open house demonstration.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Adults and children get a chance to walk through the Tustin Police headquarters building during the agency’s open house.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Tustin PD Support Division Manager Mary Novotny gives a tour of Tustin PD headquarters, including the jail, during the agency’s open house.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Officer Andrew Gleason of the Tustin PD’s SED (Special Enforcement Detail) shows 3-year-old Jonah Arriero of Tustin some of the tools used by officers under special circumstances to quickly gain access to locked or gated buildings.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC