by David DeMullé
All across the nation, people in neighborhoods stopped watching television and came out to meet their neighbors and their local councilmen last Tuesday night as the National Night Out was honoring our first responders, fire department and police who offer their lives to keep us safe. Sunland-Tujunga and Sun Valley were no exception; people from both communities came out to thank LAPD officers and firefighters from LAFD Stations 77 and 24.
Organizers say they hope such gatherings will help boost turnout at neighborhood council meetings and generally promote community involvement and outreach with our local law enforcement. Neighborhood Watch meetings in the North East Valley are conducted by our Senior Lead Officers, providing an opportunity for residents to share their concerns directly with police officers.
And what made it even more fun was that the organizers for both communities were competing to see who could have the best food and Stonehurst NNO won. With more than 350 people attending the Stonehurst event, the food was particularly good as the Phil Tabbi family dished out three kinds of meat and there were tables and tables of deserts and salads for everybody’s taste.
At the Sunland Park NNO, the regular fare of beef & turkey hot dogs was supplemented by strips of steak and chicken breasts BBQed and provided by Arnie Abramyan owner of Munchies Smoke Shop and Coffee and Cruise. It was a fun eclectic time for everyone there.
At past NNOs, communities would install blue lights on their front porches to show support. That tradition has diminished as more and more people have taken to just attending the neighborhood events and chowing down with old and new friends. What was really fun to see was the amount of people like Sonia Tatulian and the CD-7 field office staff who went to both.
As the evening went on, the cool air and music drew the people together into a family-like atmosphere. With the wind blowing through the trees, the night became almost magical.
National Night Out has always been popular here in the North East Valley. With music, free food and the opportunity to get out of the house, people can have fun and show their support of our emergency responders. Phil Tabbi and his son have put together a National Night Out event at Stonehurst Park for the past 18 years and it draws people from all parts of the valley. “This is the best damn BBQ in the valley” stated one of the people standing in line to get his dinner. This was Phil’s way of bringing the community together.
Many years ago, Michele Saffron, then a STNC member, started a Neighbor-hood Watch program in the Hillhaven community, organized block parties and got people to meet their neighbors. One of the things that she stressed is that “we cannot do this alone. It is essential that we work with our police to reduce crime in our neighborhoods.” She used the National Night Out as a means of introducing the neighbors to our local police and firefighters. “This special night is a valuable opportunity to meet your neighbors and interact with your local law enforcement officials,” She said.
Nina Royal, chairman of SERVS, feels that the National Night Out is crucial for the foundation of a strong partnership between citizens and local law enforcement.
Last year, more than 38 million communities in all 50 states had a National Night Out celebration. Council-member Monica Rodriguez and a few of her staffers were out visiting the different neighborhoods in his district to show their support and let people know that she is there for them.
There was a message here and the message was clear: Only together can we make a stand against criminals, which is why more and more neighborhoods are getting organized and doing their part to rid our communities of crime and violence.
It won’t happen overnight, but together we can do it.