Westminster Police Department brings together small business and other important groups during National Night Out

By Jessica Peralta

The sign, “We are stronger together,” held up by City Net case manager Monique Mahaffey in front of the organization’s booth at this year’s Westminster National Night Out effectively summarized the goal not only of the nonprofit itself but the event as a whole.

Westminster Police Officer Travis Hartman introduces his police dog, Pako, to local residents during National Night Out in Westminster. Photo by Jeff Antenore/Behind the Badge OC

National Night Out is a community-building event that takes place on the first Tuesday in August – this year on Aug. 7 – in cities across the nation, with each city making the event its own.

For Westminster Police Department, National Night Out was a way to bring residents, businesses, city personnel, and first responders together to mingle and have fun, while learning about people in the community.

Westminster Police Officer Kevin Maccormick helps Benjamin Weisenberg, 8, of Huntington Beach try on SWAT gear.
Photo by Jeff Antenore/Behind the Badge OC

“It’s really a celebration and recognition of the community, law enforcement,” said Westminster Police Commander Darin Upstill, who was in charge of coordinating this year’s event.

National Night Out was held in the parking area outside of Target, an event sponsor, on Beach Boulevard in order to broaden accessibility to the event for other areas of Westminster. Last year the event was held in the Westminster Mall parking lot. The Target plaza houses many businesses that participated in this year’s event.

Westminster Police Explorers stand together at a table during the city’s annual National Night Out.
Photo by Jeff Antenore/Behind the Badge OC

Among them was The Home Depot, which hosted a woodworking crafts section, donating kits that children could assemble and take home, including wooden toolboxes, a heart box, and book ends.

Pieology, which hosted a booth this year, donated 40 percent of the day’s proceeds to the Westminster Police Department officer’s memorial fund, according to Pieology Westminster’s General Manager Joshua Robbins.

Bryson Surls, 1, meets Westminster Police Officer Travis Hartman and his police dog, Pako. Photo by Jeff Antenore/Behind the Badge OC

“Any opportunity we have to be able to connect with the police department … we’re all about community,” he said.

Other participants included ReadyOC, Orange County Transportation Authority, an AT&T food truck giving away free tacos, Westminster Family Resource Center, The Joint Chiropractic and more. The Orange County Fire Authority brought a truck and West County SWAT was on hand with the BearCat armored vehicle and a table of SWAT equipment for kids and parents to try on and take photos wearing.

Firefighter Dominic Cacioppo gives out plastic firefighter helmets to kids during Westminster’s annual National Night Out event on Tuesday, August 7, 2018.
Photo by Jeff Antenore/Behind the Badge OC

And of course the popular Westminster Police Department K9 Pako (with his handler, Officer Travis Hartman) was ready to receive pats on the head and belly rubs from kids and adults.

Westminster Chief Ralph Ornelas could be spotted chatting with community and business members and even doing the twist as music played in the background.

“It’s so important to show a different side of law enforcement,” he said.

Ashley Berdahl of Huntington Beach pets Pako the police dog as he sits with his handler, Westminster Police Officer Travis Hartman, in the back of a SWAT vehicle.
Photo by Jeff Antenore/Behind the Badge OC

He said it’s not only important for him to show support to the community and businesses, but to the agency itself, including the hard-working Explorers working the event by conducting free children’s digital fingerprinting.

“I shook every one of their hands to thank them,” Ornelas said. “I want them to know I care about them.”

Westminster Police Officer Stewart Dejong looks on while Nayleah Jaime, 5, of Westminster sits on his motorcycle.
Photo by Jeff Antenore/Behind the Badge OC

Bree Collins of Huntington Beach came out to enjoy the evening with her family.

“We love the National Night Out,” she said. “It’s a great time to come and meet many people in the community …we love to meet the police officers and fire fighters. Because if there’s an emergency, it’s good to know them.”

SWAT officer J. Kent, right, shows some of the gear and weapons he uses. Photo by Jeff Antenore/Behind the Badge OC

Nayleah Jaime, 5, of Westminster works on building a wooden fishing game with help from Catherine Goya at the Home Depot booth during National Night Out. Photo by Jeff Antenore/Behind the Badge OC

SWAT Officer J. Kent shows some of his weapons and gear to Ronaldo Mendoca, 7, of Westminster. Photo by Jeff Antenore/Behind the Badge OC

Residents meet local law enforcement officers, fire fighters, and others on hand during Westminster’s annual National Night Out in the Target parking lot on Beach Boulevard. Photo by Jeff Antenore/Behind the Badge OC

Residents meet local law enforcement officers, fire fighters, and others on hand during Westminster’s National Night Out. Photo by Jeff Antenore/Behind the Badge OC

Westminster Police Officer Stewart Dejong shows his motorcycle and some other gear to Gael Tlaseca, 4. Photo by Jeff Antenore/Behind the Badge OC

Nayleah Jaime, 5, of Westminster works on building a wooden fishing game with help from Catherine Goya at the Home Depot booth. Photo by Jeff Antenore/Behind the Badge OC

Firefighter Dominic Cacioppo greets Bill Heffley of Huntington Beach and his son, Arthur Heffley, 3, as they check out a fire truck on display. Photo by Jeff Antenore/Behind the Badge OC

Residents meet local law enforcement officers, fire fighters, and others on hand during Westminster’s National Night Out. Photo by Jeff Antenore/Behind the Badge OC

Westminster’s annual National Night Out was held in the Target parking lot on Beach Boulevard on August 7. Photo by Jeff Antenore/Behind the Badge OC

Bryson Surls, 1, meets Pako the police dog. Photo by Jeff Antenore/Behind the Badge OC

Residents meet local law enforcement officers, fire fighters, and others. Photo by Jeff Antenore/Behind the Badge OC

Residents visit with local law enforcement officers, fire fighters, and others on August 7. Photo by Jeff Antenore/Behind the Badge OC