National Night Out draws Palo Altans to community gatherings | New
The country has grappled with the pandemic and nationwide protests surrounding police brutality in the three years since the last National Night Out event hosted by local police. Palo Alto police and many law enforcement agencies across the United States have been forced to consider their community relationships.
“(The Black Lives Matter protests) showed that we have a lot of work to do, and the timing was bad because we needed to get out more and yet we were hampered by (the pandemic),” Jensen said.
Despite the hurdles the Palo Alto police have had to navigate over the past few years, many government officials, including Mayor Pat Burt, are hopeful for the future of police-community relations in Palo Alto.
“This type of event is a way to improve those relationships and it really comes down to people understanding that our police and our firefighters are there all the time and not just when something bad happens,” Burt said. .
A few blocks from the retirement community of Channing House, many older people, along with members of the local community, shared books, talked about their old cars and danced to music played by residents during their National Night Out event. The occasion, the first time Channing House has held a national evening celebration in 10 years, was particularly significant for the elderly, a group that has been hit hard during the pandemic.
“We’ve been locked down for a long time and we’re protecting ourselves and ready to get out and be in the community,” said Rhonda Bekkedahl, CEO of Channing House.
For Channing House, Palo Alto police and other Palo Alto neighborhoods, Tuesday marked an important day in the fight against the pandemic. Despite the ongoing nature of the pandemic, many felt it was necessary to show neighborhood camaraderie after a difficult few years.
“All of us — whether it’s us, as government, or the public — feel a little more comfortable going out and being face-to-face,” Jensen said.