HOUSTON – Oct. 4, 2018 – Summer may be sticking around a few extra days but the hot humid evening wasn’t keeping families from gathering in front of the newly vacated Spring ISD Police Department for the organization’s fifth annual National Night Out on Tuesday.
Catherine Caballero carries a rifle in the Carl Wunsche Sr. High School Honor Guard, and she is in the school’s law enforcement pathway. Her team marched in and presented the U.S. and Texas flags to get the evening started as the crowd applauded. Caballero says that the event is all about building personal connections between the community and law enforcement.
“It’s like, now that I know this officer, I can come to him if I need anything,” said Caballero.
The event on Tuesday comes as the Spring ISD Police Department is moving its offices from the 210 North Forest location to a newly renovated office building at 420 Lockhaven, which is holding its official ribbon-cutting ceremony on Oct. 9. Even though the police department is moving into new offices, the connection with the surrounding neighborhood was clear on Tuesday as families came out to enjoy the evening.
“We are just excited to have this opportunity to share with the community and engage our community in this positive setting,” said Spring ISD Police Chief Victor Mitchell.
He encouraged the crowds to visit with the district’s business partners and area emergency responders who had set up displays in the parking lot. The Ponderosa Fire Department brought one of their trucks and let children try on some of their protective gear.
He also thanked Spring ISD Board Members Justine Durant and Donald Davis who were in attendance.
Durant was assisting at a voter-registration booth sponsored by the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, and took to the microphone to urge people to fill out registration forms and get involved.
“If you have siblings or parents or others who aren’t registered, we have forms you can take home with you. Please, no one leave here and not register,” Durant told the crowd.
While families were lining up to get hot dogs and prizes among the pop-up tents, some were there to give. Spring ISD Police Captain Vanessa Garza and others stepped up and into the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center bus to donate blood.
“It’s all about helping others, and it’s very important to give back. The opportunity was here, I took advantage of it. This is our opportunity to come out and meet with the community and let them see us in a different facet of life,” said Garza.
Meeting with the community is something that Paco, the Spring ISD Police K-9, is always eager to do. Paco, a yellow Labrador, eagerly accepted head rubs from any child passing by while his partner Officer David Fuente answered questions about the job that they do to keep schools safe.
“Oh, they love Paco. They are all over Paco, and Paco lets them pet him. He is just the main attraction here,” Fuente said.
Paco did get a lot of attention, but he was briefly upstaged as the Texas Department of Public Safety landed its police helicopter at the edge of the event. The troopers invited everyone over to inspect the aircraft and answered questions about what they see as they fly over Houston.
After completing her duties with the honor guard presentation, Caballero got to climb up into the helicopter pilot’s seat and check out the controls close up. Remarking that one of her dreams was to become a pilot, Caballero said it was easy to see that the evening event brings a positive effect.
“When the community comes out and actually wants to talk to law enforcement and interact, it helps the community feel safer,” she said. “It makes people feel good.”