Working to bring police officers, firefighters and West Valley residents closer to one another, a handful of Reseda, Winnetka, Encino and Woodland Hills groups are sponsoring an appreciation day and picnic today at Reseda Park.
Ann Kinzle of the Reseda Chamber of Commerce said the picnic will include a band, food, a costume contest for children and a baseball game between West Valley police officers and a female semi-professional fast-pitch softball team, made up of teen-agers.
West Valley Sgt. Joel Price confessed that he is "a little worried" about the baseball game.
Fun aside, Price views the picnic as a way for officers and residents to get acquainted in a non-threatening setting.
"We need to get to be closer to the people we're serving," Price said, particularly after the public flailing the Los Angeles Police Department took in the O.J. Simpson trial.
"This day will boost their morale," Kinzle added. "Their morale has been terrible through this whole Simpson thing. But our officers are not bad officers. . . . They're wonderful human beings."
More than 180 West Valley police officers and firefighters from Fire Station 73 in Reseda are expected to attend the picnic, Kinzle said, along with their families and community members.
The event will run between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. at Reseda Park, 18411 Victory Blvd, Reseda. For more information, call the Reseda Chamber of Commerce at (818) 345-1920.