Children perform the chicken dance on stage during National Night Out at Kelly Park. Photo by Maj. Deanna Bague, Fort Bliss Public Affairs.
National Night Out show and tell how communities remain safe
Maj. Deanna Bague
Fort Bliss Public Affairs
Fort Bliss families attended the third annual National Night Out Aug. 4 at Kelly Park, where they visited with both military and civilian law enforcement agencies.
Seventeen-year-old Steven, whose father is deployed, attended the event with his mother and siblings. They have lived in the housing community for the past two years. He said he feels the community is safe and attributes that to the productive relationship between residents and law enforcement.
“The cops are pretty much everywhere,” said Steven. “If anyone is wanting to do something stupid, they should be aware of the police presence in El Paso.”
Despite its growth challenges, the installation is on a successful path to keeping communities safe, said Thomas Cain, chief of physical security for the Directorate of Emergency Services.
The initiative of communities taking a proactive role to combat crime stems from the partnership between the national neighborhood watch and national sheriff associations, said Cain.
Officer Hector Hernandez, from the Directorate of Emergency Services, holds out a bag of tickets during a raffle held as part of National Night Out activities at Kelly Park Aug. 4. Photo by Maj. Deanna Bague, Fort Bliss Public Affairs.
“[Communities] are making a statement against a criminal element – that our communities are ours,” said Cain. “It’s not just the law enforcement, but it’s the neighbors and the participation of the community and businesses and organizations. It’s a collective unified coalition against the criminal elements in the neighborhoods.”
The post’s uniqueness of being very transitory and therefore not having a lot of long-term neighbors has led to modifying the neighborhood watch program, said Cain. The community watch is an installation-wide program in which there are partnerships and intervention programs to counterbalance the temptation of criminal mischief.
“We rely on the [family readiness groups], we rely on the command elements, and then we rely on our organizations like [Morale, Welfare and Recreation] to break the ice for us,” said Cain. “We come in on the backside, if you will, and we provide the law enforcement information [and] presence – the prevention side.”
Military working dog handlers from the 72nd Military Police Detachment explain the missions of the MWD to a crowd of community members who attended National Night Out at Kelly Park. Photo by Maj. Deanna Bague, Fort Bliss Public Affairs.
Cain said the efforts of post and local authorities have been successful in keeping residents safe, and that national statistics support this.
“El Paso is the second safest city in its size in the nation,” said Cain.
Police Lt. Jaime Velasquez, from the El Paso Police Department, said the best way to address the issues brought about by the growth of Fort Bliss is with the close partnerships formed among the El Paso Police, El Paso County Sheriff, Fort Bliss Military Police and emergency services, and outlining police agencies in the county.
“We rely on the officers’ training and professionalism,” said Velasquez. “We try to apply our training to accommodate and provide the best service possible.”