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Extending friendly arm of the law

Newport Beach Police Department educates kids and adults on how they perform their duties.

August 08, 2007|By Kelly Strodl

Madison Reiter poked her head out of an armored SWAT vehicle Tuesday night. It was good practice for the 10-year-old Costa Mesa girl because someday she, like her mom, hopes to be a police officer, she said.

Her mother Angela Reiter is applying to be an officer with the Newport Beach Police Department.

The Reiters, including Madison's sisters Chloe, 9, and Kristina, 6, were just one of many families visiting with Newport Beach police for the annual National Night Out Tuesday.

From 4 to 7 p.m., hundreds of area residents stopped by Bonita Canyon Sports Park and took the time to get to know their local law enforcement officials. Many only found out about the event as they drove by.

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"I want to pull people over," Madison said, explaining what she finds so attractive about a life of fighting crime. She added she is not afraid to go catch some bad guys, too. Her sister Chloe, on the other hand, said she preferred rescuing animals, and if given a choice she would rather be an animal control officer.

Kids like Madison and Chloe crowded around booths where Crime Scene investigators showed them how they lift fingerprints off of a clear surface.

It may not be as glamorous as on television, but they sure get to use some cool gadgets, CSI Supervisor Don Gage told the crowd. For the more fragile surfaces, a magnetic fingerprint powder is used that almost stands on end when magnetized. And the unit recently obtained ultraviolet flashlights that are used to detect harder-to-see evidence, such as traces of blood.

SWAT team members also discussed the tools they use. The officers sometimes have to carry up to 100 pounds of gear including additional magazines for their weapons and a 45-pound battering ram.

Parents were given identification packets for their kids that records DNA and fingerprints, making it easier for authorities to find them if the children go missing. Officers also showed how they use two dogs for drug detection. The children were impressed when they saw the bullet-proof vest worn by the dogs, and a few asked their parents if their pup could get one too.

The department also raffled off seats for a ride-along with police. The winner will spend a shift with officers on patrol.

Chief John Klein was pleased that National Night Out gave residents an opportunity to interact with their police department in a positive way, instead of meeting the officers just when they write them a ticket, Klein said.

"They get information about crime prevention, talk with K9 officers and SWAT, and get more information on what we do," Klein said.

Costa Mesa Police stopped by to check out how Newport Beach hosted National Night Out activities as they did not have any this year but plan on doing so next year.


  • KELLY STRODL may be reached at (714) 966-4623 or at kelly.strodl@latimes.com.

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