8th annual Clovis Night Out strengthens relationship between residents, local agencies

Clovis traffic officers pose for a group photo at their informational booth during Clovis Night Out, Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018. Left to right: Officer Chris Peters, Officer Mark Bradford, Corporal Rich Ashcraft, and Officer Randy Gens. CONTRIBUTED BY RON SUNDQUIST

The Clovis Police Department hosted Clovis Night Out, its annual community event, for the eighth time at Sierra Meadows Park on Saturday, Sept. 22.

During the fun-filled evening, the department aimed to not only reach out to the community it serves, but to create a environment that welcomed questions and conversations.

“It’s something we have been doing for years,” said Randy Gens, a traffic officer for Clovis PD.

Gens said that he has never missed a year. He added that through the years he has really captured the growth and the outreach the department has been able to put forward.

“We’re able to have a lot more space, and with more space you have a lot more food vendors, more everything,” said Gens.

The event was once located at Clovis High School, which limited space and narrowed the capacities.

Now, the event is located at Sierra Meadows Park, with plenty of space to create a spectacular, welcoming environment for everyone from seniors to toddlers.

“It really opens up the communication between the police department and the community that we serve on a day-to-day basis,” said Gens.

The west parameter of the park was reserved for the Bomb Squad, Crisis Negotiations, Tactical Operations, Champlain, and SWAT. Each department allowed members of the community to approach them in a casual manner dedicated to build relationships by educating the public on their service.

An energetic band played iconic covers from the sounds of the 90s to the current top hits on an outdoor auditorium. Instead of bleachers, community members brought lawn chairs and blankets to sit and enjoy the food and music.

There were also PG&E trucks, fire trucks, bounce houses, water slides, and many more attractions for the young ones.

It was inevitable to be drawn to the California Highway Patrol’s helicopter which offered tours and iconic pictures for the ecstatic people. It flew off with style at about 7:30 p.m., allowing spectators to feel the gust of an up-close takeoff.

But it wasn’t just the helicopter turning heads. A pair of skydivers from the Fresno State BulldogBlitz skydiving team also made for popular attraction. Kids laughed and chanted as the two female skydivers circled the park just before landing.

Connie Nickells, operations manager of the Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD), said this was the first time her organization attended the event. Aside from sponsoring the skydivers, she hoped to reach out to the community and raise awareness.

“It’s been really neat,” said Nickell. “We’ve had a lot of people come by asking great questions.”

Despite the overwhelming heat during the setup of the booth, Nickell said it had been an awesome experience.

The event closed with an astonishing firework show.