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Often when children come in contact with police officers or emergency crews, the situation isn’t good.

Accidents and domestic disputes are common occasions when a child meets a police officer or firefighter for the first time. Mom and Dad might be arguing or the child may have been involved in a traffic accident the first time the child and someone from public safety interact.

Stressful situations frighten the child, who may form negative opinions about the public service provider who helped them simply due to the context of the event. A firefighter’s presence may elicit fear someone is injured, and a police officer may trigger worry a child or someone in their family is in trouble.

National Night Out, an annual event hosted in Sedona and other communities across the country, aims to change this.

On Tuesday, Aug. 2, at 6 p.m., children and adults alike were invited to Posse Grounds Park to meet police officers, firefighters, helicopter paramedics and others who protect our community.

The event gives children a chance to meet people often present in bad situations in a stress-free environment. If children are familiar with police officers and emergency crews, it adds one more element of comfort in an uncomfortable situation.

Introducing children to police officers and firefighters can squash negative stereotypes about either profession before the child has a chance to develop them. Showing children these people are in the field because they care fosters a trusting relationship between a child and public safety workers.

Local agencies, including Sedona Police Department, Sedona Fire District and Guardian Air, display their equipment and vehicles to show children and answer questions.

This year marks the 28th year of the event, which is a proactive attempt by the agencies involved to not only do their jobs, but to interact and communicate with those they serve and protect.

Trista Steers MacVittie

Managing Editor

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