Avon meets its neighbors | VailDaily.com

Avon meets its neighbors

Lauren Glendenning
Vail, CO Colorado

AVON, Colorado – Cesar Guillen has lived in The Aspens in Avon for about three years, yet he said he only knows a couple of his neighbors.

Guillen was hoping to change that Tuesday at the community’s National Night Out party.

Avon Police Chief Brian Kozak said area residents, who are transient in nature, could probably work on meeting each other a little more. The town of Avon hosted National Night Out Tuesday in an effort to facilitate those relationships.

National Night Out is “America’s night out against crime,” according to the event’s mission statement. It’s a night where communities across America get together to meet both each other and their local police officers and firefighters.

“We wanted to get people out of their homes to meet each other and the police that are here to serve them,” Kozak said.

The night is positive for police officers, too, since they typically meet people in the community when they’re called to respond to negative events, Kozak said.

For residents at The Aspens, a mobile home community in Avon, it’s important for residents to realize they can count on the local police, said Hope Flores, a resident and the National Night Out organizer for that community. Flores also works with the Bright Future Foundation, a local organization for victims of domestic violence.

“The most important thing is that bringing just awareness that the police officers aren’t a threat,” she said.

More than 90 percent of The Aspens community is Hispanic, and many of them are sometimes afraid to call the police or report crimes because they fear they’ll get deported or police won’t respond to them, Flores said.

Whatever residents’ reasons are for not calling police, Flores wants to let them know they can and should call.

Her main three objectives are to get neighborhood watches started, encourage people to leave their lights on and to lock their homes.

“It’s really important that we learn to really start thinking safety,” Flores said.

Safety is on the minds of Craig and Terry DeHaan, who live in The Aspens, but they said the community is generally problem-free. They came to National Night Out to enjoy a night with the community members they haven’t yet met.

“We don’t know half of these families,” Terry DeHaan said. “I think it’s great for these kids.”

National Night Out is definitely a program for kids, said T.J. Meza, an EMT with the Eagle River Fire Protection District. Meza came to the event on his day off because he said seeing kids’ faces light up while they’re having a good time makes it all worth it.

“You build those bonds and relationships, especially if you can make good impressions with the kids,” Meza said.

As kids played games and families enjoyed hamburgers and hot dogs, the Avon Police blended right into the crowd. That’s what the night is all about, Kozak said.

“It’s neat to meet the cops that are working your neighborhood,” Kozak said. “They get to see that we are people as well, instead of just looking at us as just a uniform.”

Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or lglendenning@vaildaily.com

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