'Taking the community back'

SOUTH GLENDALE — More than 100 residents gathered Tuesday at the recently vandalized Pacific Park Community Center to take a stand against crime.

A piece of plywood still covered a broken glass door, which vandals smashed along with two other doors on July 17 during a south Glendale vandalism spree.

For many, Tuesday's National Night Out celebration at the vandalized community center represented a need for neighborhood participation in the city's crime-fighting efforts, officials said.

"This night is about taking the community back," Glendale Police Officer Blanca Aguilar told a crowd gathered at the park.

Officers greeted and talked to residents at the event, urging them to get acquainted with one another and start up their own neighborhood watch groups to monitor crime.

Starting a neighborhood group that focuses on maintaining safety is a concept that more south Glendale residents should adopt, 21-year-old resident Remy Pantoja said.

"It's better to have that because you feel safer," she said.

More than two dozen events citywide were organized for Tuesday night, and roughly 1,500 people were expected to attend.

Clients at PATH Achieve Glendale, the city's main homeless services provider, ate meals donated by Dinah's Chicken and played games.

The celebration was a first for the shelter, but critical to build relationships between police and the homeless, said Natalie Profant Komuro, executive director of PATH Achieve Glendale.

Community participation is critical to the Police Department, Glendale Police Chief Ron De Pompa said.

"This is the essence of building strong community partnerships … because it gets neighbors out together so they can meet each other," he said. "It gets the neighborhood out so they can meet their Police Department, and it creates a general awareness of public safety, so it's a very important building block for those police and community partnerships."

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