[Updated: 8:30 a.m.]
Community members can swing a softball bat and eat a barbecue dinner alongside local law enforcement officers tonight as part of National Night Out Tuesday night.
The informal event is designed to give citizens and police officers the chance to interact in an informal setting. Block parties and gatherings will be taking place around the city.
For Pacific Area residents, National Night Out will begin at 6 p.m. at Mar Vista Gardens Recreation Center at 4901 Marionwood Drive in Los Angeles. (Note: This is NOT the Mar Vista Recreation Center on Palms Boulevard.)
Eleventh District Councilman Bill Rosendahl will open the evening and address the crowd, and City Controller Wendy Greuel will also be in attendance. Police officers will then play on mixed softball teams with community members. Everybody will get a chance to bat, said Rob Kadota, co-chair of the Safety and Security Committee of the Mar Vista Community Council.
“[Last year] we played probably two innings,” Kadota said with a laugh. “It was a lot of fun.”
This year, the organizers plan for the game to be Chicago-style softball —no gloves required. Any kind of footwear works fine as well.
The event is intended to be a public stance against crime in communities.
“This is a way of saying 'We won’t be bullied by violence,’ ” Kadota said. “There is a lot of good out there, and together as a community we can solve the crime and concerns we have.”
South Mar Vista Senior Lead Officer Marcy Garcia will be one of the officers swinging the bat tonight. She hopes community members will approach her and ask questions in between running the bases, adding that she hopes to provide helpful information in the process.
That may include ways to contact the police during emergencies and nonemergencies, as well as information about being a witness, Garcia said.
She particularly wants to see youngsters turning out for National Night Out along with their parents.
“A lot of children are fearful of the police,” Garcia said. “This is the perfect opportunity to show them that we’re no different than anybody else. They can come to us and feel comfortable approaching.”