The wailing sirens and flashing red lights of twenty-seven emergency vehicles from Mesquite and surrounding communities heralded the arrival of police, fire-fighters and other emergency workers at the Mesquite Recreation Center for the Annual Mesquite Night Out. As the last fire truck pulled into the parking area, the Med Life helicopter swooped in for a landing in the middle of the athletic field thrilling the crowd of several hundred folks gathered for the festivities. After the chopper landed volunteers from the high school band led by Kendra Graf played the National Anthem while a color guard raised the flag.
While the Elks Lodge served up hotdogs, twenty-one booths lined the sidewalk providing information and activities ranging from face-painting to fire-fighting methods. Jeff Smith of the Mesquite Police Department was pleased with the turnout commenting, “This is a wonderful community event that is loved by the kids while providing a great bond between the law enforcement and emergency worker community and the citizens.” He added, “This kind of event brings us all together.” Then his eyes gazed enviously at the S.W.A.T.(Special Weapons And Tactics) vehicle provided by the city of Las Vegas for the event. “We have a converted armored car but it is not large enough to carry our team when the need arises and we are hopeful of obtaining one like the one Las Vegas brought here.”
Explorer scouts, under the direction of Celia Hoggard who is a detective with the Mesquite Police department were busy assisting with setting up displays and assisting with events. Scouts, David Moreno, Ramone Hernandez, Ryan Luce and Treashell Nicol, are part of an Explorer group who are interested law enforcement careers. They all agreed that being exposed to the people, equipment and environment is a positive motivational approach to encourage youth toward a life of community service.
Mongo the clown, a.k.a. Tyler Black of the Mesquite Fire Department, amused the youngsters posing for pictures with them and passing out goodies. Meanwhile, firefighter G.G. Miso, was the entertaining and silver-throated host of the “Firehouse Rock” display set up for the kids by the fire department. “Mongo’s the star,” Miso insisted, “I’m just a straight man here.” After watching Mongo and Miso work the crowd it was evident that they and the crowd enjoyed what they were doing.
At another booth, Tori and Julie Goodsell painted bright and dazzling images on the faces of eager young people like Adrianna Acosta and Ethan Bull. “We love doing this for the younger kids,” said Tori, “I just love watching the faces of these kids.” Meanwhile Sasha Harris was having her blood pressure tested by Baudelia De-Santiago who works with the Home Care and Hospice Center. “Sometimes the people we test here have never had their blood pressure taken so this was a wonderful opportunity to discover a problem before it worsens.” The next booth down the F.B.I. passed out literature on the new National Child Identification Program which included “Smart Phone” apps where photos and other information can be updated ensuring that a current identification is available for law enforcement officials should the need arise.
The Mesquite Police Department used the occasion to introduce the new uniforms being provided to the bicycle patrol. Officer Mike Magadon sported the new uniform that adds a little color to the normally black uniforms. Currently, Mesquite has six officers certified to serve on bicycle patrol. Officer Justin Goodsell explained, “While the bicycle patrol currently is deployed for special events only, there is a possibility to expand the service if the need arises.” He went on, “We are silent and stealthy able to maneuver where police cruisers can’t.”
Another service of the police department is animal control and officer Joe Macias displayed all the tools of his trade. “We are a small unit and we respond to several hundred incidents every year.” He went on to relate that his unit is always on call and they have responded to everything from snakes to killer bees. Another example of something we don’t think about is when someone is arrested in a vehicle and an animal is present, it is, “my unit that gets called to recover the animal.”
It was it was a delightful night for the kids as they were allowed to sit in squad cars climb through the fire apparatus and ambulances and sit on police motor cycles, the biggest attraction was the Med Air helicopter. Piloted by Tim Wilkerson and staffed by flight nurse, Rick Wilbur and medic, Rob Rodgers, the medevac helicopter attracted a long line to look at the inside of a chopper for the first time. Med Air provides an air ambulance service that helps assure that seriously injured patients can be transported to the hospital within what is known as “the magic hour” wherein most victims can be saved.
The S.W.A.T. booth featured body armor, helmets and riot shields attracting many of the young boys such as thirteen year old David Curtis. As his mother watched with a nervous smile, he donned the armored vest. Asked if he would like to where that armor in 100 degree heat for several hours David calmly replied, “Sure, I think I would be willing to do that.” When pressed further, David responded that he was interested in future military service. His mom gave no response to that.
A demonstration of the capabilities of search and rescue/recovery dogs was provided by Debbie Smith who has used her dogs on numerous occasions in this area over the last three years. Smith is a citizen volunteer who trained her own dogs. “Search and rescue is very tedious and difficult work because we usually get called to remote locations with difficult terrain,” Smith said, “but I’ve always been athletic and I get a lot of satisfaction from the work I do.” She then showed how her dogs.
Bikers Against Child Abuse (B.A.C.A) roared in on their motorcycles. B.A.C.A. is a non-profit group of riders dedicated to victims of child abuse. Celia (Boomer) Hoggard, detective with the Mesquite Police Department and her husband “Beezer” are members of that group. Beezer, his biker nickname, explained, “We get involved with the victim and their families in a supportive and if necessary, protective role with these kids.” B.A.C.A. is a relatively new (since 1995) and growing organization that exists in thirty-nine of the fifty states and has expanded to countries like Australia and France. “We go by nicknames and our only requirement for membership is that you have a motorcycle capable of maintaining highway speeds,” he concluded.
Meanwhile Jeff Smith, Mesquite Police Department, called attention to the crowd to witness a demonstration of the Taser weapon. Supposed “volunteer” corrections officer, Brian Hunter, submitted to the procedure as Smith assured the crowd that, “Officer Hunter has bravely volunteered to be tased and we hope he will show us tears of appreciation.” Officer Hunter dutifully received the high-voltage charge immediately convincing the crowd that it was not a pleasant thing to endure. Following that the fire department demonstrated the Jaws of Life as they destroyed demonstration vehicle.