National Night Out: Recruiting and Reassuring the Community

Pasadena Fire Chief Bertral Williams and Pasadena Police Chief Phillip L. Sanchez during National Night Out 2017 Kickoff Party at Jefferson Park in Pasadena, CA., Tuesday, August 1, 2017. Photo by James CarboneElias Zavitsanos, 7, of Pasadena sits on a Pasadena Police motorcycle during National Night Out 2017 Kickoff Party at Jefferson Park in Pasadena, CA., Tuesday, August 1, 2017. Photo by James CarbonePasadena Police Officers talk with local residents during National Night Out 2017 Kickoff Party at Jefferson Park in Pasadena, CA., Tuesday, August 1, 2017. Photo by James CarboneOmar Bugarin, Pasadena Police Explorer, greets local resident during National Night Out 2017 Kickoff Party at Jefferson Park in Pasadena, CA., Tuesday, August 1, 2017. Photo by James CarbonePasadena Chief of Police Philip L. Sanchez during National Night Out 2017 Kickoff Party at Jefferson Park in Pasadena, CA., Tuesday, August 1, 2017. Photo by James CarbonePasadena\'s National Night Out 2017 Kickoff Party at Jefferson Park in Pasadena, CA., Tuesday, August 1, 2017. Photo by James Carbone Pasadena\'s National Night Out 2017 Kickoff Party at Jefferson Park in Pasadena, CA., Tuesday, August 1, 2017. Photo by James Carbone Pasadena local residents cook hamburgers and hotdogs during Pasadena\'s National Night Out 2017 on Bella Vista Avenue in Pasadena, CA., Tuesday, August 1, 2017. Photo by James CarbonePasadena local residents gather during Pasadena\'s National Night Out 2017 on Bella Vista Avenue in Pasadena, CA., Tuesday, August 1, 2017. Photo by James CarboneKids play games during Pasadena\'s National Night Out 2017 at Hastings Ranch Library in Pasadena, CA., Tuesday, August 1, 2017. Photo by James CarboneA young boy makes arts and crafts during Pasadena\'s National Night Out 2017 at Hastings Ranch Library in Pasadena, CA., Tuesday, August 1, 2017. Photo by James CarboneFamilies gather during Pasadena\'s National Night Out 2017 Kickoff Party at Jefferson Park in Pasadena, CA., Tuesday, August 1, 2017. Photo by James CarboneMembers of Pasadena\'s Police and Fire Departments and local dignataries gather during National Night Out 2017 Kickoff Party at Jefferson Park in Pasadena, CA., Tuesday, August 1, 2017. Photo by James Carbone

By EDDIE RIVERA, Community Editor | Photography by JAMES CARBONE

5:37 am | August 2, 2017


Omar Bugarin was shyly drifting through his days at Marshall High School, not at the wheel of his life, and not really caring much, anyway.

He stood in his full dress Pasadena Explorer uniform early Tuesday evening, handing out snacks to neighbors at the 21st annual Pasadena National Night Out at Jefferson Park, as the uncommonly humid late afternoon temperature sat at about 100 degrees.

The event featured scores of Pasadena safety personnel, from firefighters to uniformed police officers, to detectives, motorcycle officers, to disaster team members, air squadron members, and yes, Explorers, on site, mingling and enjoying hot dogs and barbeque with community members.

“There was a security guard who talked to me back then, actually,” Bugarin recalled, as the park began to fill with local neighbors, “and she was nice enough to introduce me to a few people.”

She eventually recommended Omar for Junior Public Safety Academy, a week-long program of actually working closely with police officers at police headquarters, as well as with the Fire Department station on Lake Avenue.

“It was very exciting,” said Senior Corporal Bugarin. “I got to experience a lot of new things that I never thought I would experience in my whole life. We saw vehicles, equipment, radios, and all those things. I saw the same things at the fire station and it was very exciting.”

Now Boudin is in his second year at Pasadena City College, gathering up transfer credits to a 4-year college, and rapidly approaching his fifth year as an Explorer.

As he explained, interested Explorer candidates attend two meetings of Explorers, and are eventually given a basic interview along with an advisor, and once passed, are official recruits, who attend meetings and begin to actually the details of Explorer, and eventually, police work.

Explorer “details” often involve supplementing the police force with large scale events where they may help with traffic detail or act as additional “eyes and ears” for officers.

On Tuesday evening, as clouds gathered, and the distant thunder grew louder and closer, he was joined by Explorer and high school senior Alma Gonzales, who is also looking forward to serving the City as a full-fledged police officer.

‘This is something I have always wanted to do, ever since I was little,” said Gonzales.

Police Chief Phillip Sanchez recognized the event and its influence on young people like Gonzales and Bugarin, saying, “The fact of the matter is that law enforcement, now more than ever needs public support. And I think in that effort, we’re very blessed in Pasadena. We have a very supportive community, a very engaged community, and it helps our officers do their jobs every day, and that helps keep our community safe.”

Councilmember Margaret McAustin, in whose district the rotating event was held, echoed the Chief’s comments, telling the gathering, “We are so fortunate to have all these police officers and firefighters come out and mingle with you, and listen to you, and hear about what’s going on in your neighborhoods. We talk about what makes Pasadena so great, and we talk about the trees and we talk about the parks and the neighborhoods and the historic landmarks, but it’s events like this where are connecting with each other, that make Pasadena great.”

Moments later, the temperature had dropped from 100 to the high 60s, and with a deep, rolling rumble and flashes of lightning, the skies opened up for a rare summer rain storm as participants gathered under the canopoes of large oak trees while the storm passed overhead.

Thirty minutes later, as music played, and the sun sort of peeked out to see how things were going, the egg toss was headed toward its final rounds, and officers began to visit other parks and neighborhoods throughout Pasadena.

It was that kind of an evening.