The 2021 National Night Out in downtown Morgan Hill was all about the community on Aug. 3.
Police, firefighters and public safety officials handed out stickers and ice cream, played games with energetic kids, and sought to meet as many local residents as they could. Children climbed on MHPD traffic motorcycles and lined up to pet the department’s K9 dog, Bosco, while parents snapped photos and thanked the officers.
Hundreds of local residents attended the Aug. 3 event along Depot Street, which was closed to vehicle traffic and lined up with food trucks.
Before the pandemic, the National Night Out had become an increasingly popular annual event in Morgan Hill, and one of MHPD’s biggest efforts to interact with residents on their own terms. The department had to cancel several of its annual community engagement programs in 2020 because of Covid-19 restrictions, and MHPD Chief Shane Palsgrove said it felt good to bring back the National Night Out.
“It feels absolutely wonderful to see everyone out here, having a good time interacting with police officers, building relationships,” Palsgrove said. “That’s what National Night Out is all about.”
Police departments around the country held similar events on Aug. 3 for National Night Out. The event was founded in August 1984 through an established network of law enforcement agencies, neighborhood watch groups, civic groups, state and regional crime prevention associations and volunteers across the nation.
“A core value of the Morgan Hill Police Department is community policing. Simply put, community policing is when the police department gets to work with the community in partnership to solve problems of crime,” Palsgrove told the crowd on stage at the Aug. 3 event.
He added that MHPD is fortunate to have so much support from local residents.
Mayor Rich Constantine encouraged them to introduce themselves to as many police officers and firefighters as they could at the National Night Out and thank the public safety professionals.
“They are here every day to keep us safe and keep this community as safe and wonderful as it is,” said Constantine, who is a retired San Jose firefighter.
Events like National Night Out are productive for MHPD officers, Palsgrove added. In the past year or so, the department has hired 12 new officers—or more than 25 percent of its total workforce.
“We have a lot of new officers and it’s really good for them to be able to come out here early on in their career and see what it looks like for the police to interact with the community, see the amount of support we have from the community, and start building those relationships so that we’re better prepared to solve problems in our community,” Palsgrove said.