GV police give out helmets, goodwill | TheUnion.com

GV police give out helmets, goodwill

Eileen JoyceGrass Valley Police Officer Doug Clark fastens a free helmet onto Buck Cain, 5, at Glenbrook Plaza Tuesday.
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Goodwill through helmets was delivered in a Grass Valley parking lot Tuesday.

On one section of pavement, police Officer Doug Clark reached into a cardboard box, lifted out a blue bicycle helmet, and set it on 9-year-old Robert Sterling’s head.

“Perfect,” Clark said, flashing a thumbs up.

“Yeah,” Sterling shrugged.

Nearby, three young boys – Buck Cain and Tyler and Cody Wood – tilted their yellow plastic firefighting helmets and looked skyward. Way up there, Grass Valley firefighter Ryan West stood atop a 75-foot ladder.

The freebies and demos were part of the 19th annual National Night Out at Glenbrook Plaza shopping center, where police officers, firefighters and volunteers entertained more than 200 people.

Food, toys, fingerprinting, pony rides, a new California Highway Patrol Camaro squad car and lots of bonding were included.

“I just think it’s good PR,” Nevada City resident Bob Ratto said after his kids, Nick and Dani, were fitted with free helmets. “It’s sort of like you don’t really think (of police) as real people, but here you get a chance to know them. It’s a neat deal.”

His wife, Julie Ratto, said their kids learned that officers can be approached.

“If they can do it here, they can do it in a different situation,” she said.

Fourteen-year-old Ronny Lopez certainly felt comfortable.

He held a skateboard and wore shades, a knit cap and T-shirt reading “The Need for Weed.”

He’s had skateboards confiscated six times by police, he said, but he harbors no ill feelings.

“I don’t look at them as bad guys or anything,” he said. “They’re not bad people. They’re just doing their job, and I’m doing mine.”

The event aims to promote community togetherness and crime prevention awareness, Chief John Foster said.

The helmet giveaway, he said, provided evidence it’s working. He pointed to a boy who had bicycled to the event without a helmet.

“That’s the payback,” he said.

Police handed out about 50 helmets. During the same time, nearly 200 children were fingerprinted.

As for the Camaro, designed to catch speeders, it will be on display at the county fair. CHP Officer Troy Marks said the car is a loaner from Sacramento, and the Grass Valley office didn’t receive one.

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