Hundreds of locals turn out for police parties
AVON – Kids laughed and rolled on top of one another in an overcrowded inflatable jumper as Avon Police Officer Dave Wineman told them to settle down. “It’s good for the kids,” said Viri Carbajal, who brought her two young boys, Ulysses and Angel, to Aspens Community Park so they could meet their neighbors. Families partied with Avon Police and Eagle County sheriff’s deputies in Avon, Gypsum, Edwards and El Jebel on Tuesday night for National Night Out, held annually by police in cities across the nation. Tim Hargreaves brought his 6- and 8-year-old children and his wife, Wendy, to O’Neil Spur Park in Wildridge for ice cream and to talk with his neighbors, he said.”It’s a nice opportunity to get together with some people we know and some people we don’t know,” Hargreaves said.
For police, the Avon parties helped build trust among residents who normally would not get the chance to talk to an officer outside of a traffic stop.”National Night Out is a great way to generate rapport between the police and citizens,” said Avon Police Chief Brian Kozak.Lydia Morales, manager for the Aspens, hoped the party would kindle interest in a neighborhood-watch program, which she and others will organize with police in the coming weeks, she said.Police also reminded residents of crime in Avon. In Wildridge, property crime increased more than 100 percent this year – eight thefts and one burglary were reported compared with four thefts reported last year, Kozak said.
Many of those thefts came from people leaving garage doors open, so police reminded residents to lock up, Kozak said.At the Aspens, some immigrants avoid calling police for emergencies because they fear that police will turn them in, Wineman said. Avon Police only call federal authorities about a suspect if they have to make an arrest, he said.”Some people are afraid, but some people are just willing to do it,” said Aspens resident Jocelyn Garcia about Aspens residents calling police in emergencies.Regardless of immigration status, firefighters will respond to all emergencies, said Chief Charlie Moore of the Eagle River Fire Protection District. “When they need help, they can call us,” Moore said.
The event was the first one held in Avon, said Kozak, who also gave a brief standup comedy routine to some boos and laughter.”Why are there police officers? Do you know?” Kozak asked Wildridge residents. “So firefighters can have heroes.”Carbajal wished that police would hold the party several times each year, she said.”It’s just good for everyone,” she said.At the Avon parties, local businesses contributed free food, drinks and ice cream, an inflatable jumper for kids and a raffle with more than $3,400 in prizes including a new pair of K2 skis. The Avon festivities also included live music from The Ride and Antonio the Angel, firetrucks and ambulances.Staff Writer Steve Lynn can be reached at 748-2931 or email@example.com.