Aztec, Farmington police departments hosting events for officers to connect with area residents



FARMINGTON — Two community outreach events this month presented by local law enforcement agencies are designed to foster a connection between residents and police officers.

The Aztec Police Department is eager to welcome residents to this year's National Night Out event Tuesday night in Minium Park, according to Chief Mike Heal.

"What I enjoy doing is going out and meeting so many people from the city," Heal said. 

The department is hosting the event for the 18th year.

Heal hopes it will provide an opportunity for Aztec residents to connect with officers to help them feel comfortable reporting suspicious or unusual behavior.

He added he plans on having every officer in the department there for residents to meet.

"I think it's important. If the people don't know us, they are not going to trust us as much," Heal said. "They can see we are normal people, and we are here to help them."

Aztec police stage their National Night Out event earlier than the date designated for the national event on the first Tuesday in August to avoid conflicts with other local events, including the Connie Mack World Series and the San Juan County Fair.

Bicycles and safety helmets will be among the items to be given away in drawings during the event.

Heal highlighted the donut-eating contest that he and other officers will participate in. People who defeat the officers in the contest will win a T-shirt.

Officers also will have goggles on hand that simulate the effects of alcohol impairment for people to try.

Free food and drinks, including hot dogs, soda and water, will be given away. Carnival rides also will be set up at the park.

There will be a variety of entertainment at the event, including the band Grupo Sensacion, a performance by Joe Tohannie Jr. and the White Mountain Apache Crown Dancers.

Pageant winners, including Miss New Mexico USA Ashley Mora, Miss Teen New Mexico USA Kalina Hamilton and Mrs. San Juan County Savanah Ray, will make appearances at the event.

The Farmington Police Department was able to quickly fill all 100 slots for its first soccer camp set for July 22.

About 70 children signed up for the camp at the Farmington Soccer Complex within the first 24 hours of registration, according to spokeswoman Georgette Allen. 

She said the camp was inspired by a conversation Chief Steve Hebbe had with one of the candidates who interviewed for the deputy police chief position.

"We were very excited about the overwhelming response we got from the community," Allen said.

Local businesses have donated water and snacks for the camp, which will end with the officers playing a game with the children.

Joshua Kellogg covers crime, courts and social issues for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.

If you go

What: Aztec Police Department National Night Out

When: 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Minium Park, 200 N. Park Ave. in Aztec

More Info: For more information, call 505-334-7620

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