5 new police officers hired
America celebrated the 24th annual National Night Out on Tuesday night, and Storm Lake participated with 16 block parties of its own.
The event happens every year on the first Tuesday of August, with communities across the nation, as well as military bases worldwide, getting together to increase a sense of community spirit and heighten crime and drug prevention awareness.
Over 650 people attended Storm Lake's 16 events, including cookouts, pot luck suppers and block parties. Storm Lake police officers, firefighters and EMTs stopped at each of the parties to educate people and to encourage community support and help in creating a safer and happier place to live.
Volunteer firefighters attended a Tulip Lane party held by Oscar and Jody Martinez.
The firefighters reminded people to change the batteries in their smoke alarms twice a year, at the same time they change their clocks for daylight savings. One firefighter even suited up in his full gear and walked around the crowd showing kids how a firefighter would look and sound if he needed to come to their rescue. They wanted to emphasize fire safety and make sure that children would recognize them in their suits and not be afraid of them in an emergency.
"We sound like Darth Vader," joked one of the volunteers.
Police officers also made rounds to each of the parties asking people to call in any suspicious behavior. Police Chief Mark Prosser stopped at all of the parties and thanked everyone who participated in the event.
"We cannot keep our community safe alone," said Prosser, emphasizing the community's role in promoting crime prevention. "We're really pleased with this year's participation in this event and the ongoing support of our citizens for our public safety personnel and the safety of our community. Keeping our community safe is a team effort between the citizens and the first responders, and Storm Lake citizens have always been exemplary in their willingness to help."
Police Captain Bob Swanson agreed.
"Help each other, help yourselves and help us keep this community safe," Swanson said.
In addition to promoting the goals of the event, police announced that Officer Pete Erickson would be retiring at the end of this month, and Captain Swanson will retire in November. A reception for Officer Erickson will be held at the fire station this Friday from 10 a.m. to noon. Everyone in the community is invited.
Also, to fill the retirement slots and other vacancies, five new officers are joining SLPD: Nick Thompson, Brian Flikeid, Travis Anderson, Peter Hillman and Tory Cudabeck.