Local youngster Mase Loury (left) gets a car from Officer Daniel Martinez of the Department of Emergency Services at the Fort Hunter Liggett booth during National Night Out in King City on Aug. 2. (Sean Roney)

KING CITY — Law enforcement agencies across South Monterey County participated in the National Night Out on Aug. 2, part of a nationwide effort to get communities in touch with the officers who serve them. 

Local police and fire departments hosted community booths and offered entertainment and free food at area venues.

King City held its event between and around the police and fire department buildings, with dozens of booths inside the fire station. An estimated 500 community members were in attendance.

“Historically, police departments have been very closed, but times have changed and agencies recognize that community engagement will reap rewards,” said King City Police Chief Keith Boyd. “One of the biggest challenges in policing with individuals is they’re uncomfortable with the cops. But if you create a comfortable environment for them to come and understand that the police department and fire department are places they can come to be safe, then it opens those doors.”

A California Highway Patrol helicopter landing was planned for King City, but Boyd said an emergency in Big Sur caused the landing to be canceled. 

National Night Out also offered a chance for residents to talk with officers, asking whatever they most wanted to find out from police. Topics brought up ranged from officer backgrounds to how someone could become an officer.

All the South Monterey County departments hosted activities for children and awarded prizes, such as bike helmets, school supplies and even bikes and scooters.

Planning for National Night Out typically starts months before the event, but next in the lineup for area agencies is planning autumn and winter events, with each department having different plans.

Next year’s National Night Out will be united in timing, typically the first Tuesday in August.

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Sean Roney is a freelance reporter for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers general news for the Salinas Valley communities in South Monterey County.


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