BARSTOW — Police dogs, hot dogs and safety demonstrations brought the community out to the Barstow Police Department’s National Night Out at Dana Park on Tuesday as part of a nationwide effort to bring law enforcement closer to the people they serve.

Families had the opportunity to meet with officers from the Police Department and other emergency service groups for a night of free handouts and safety education.

“A lot of people came out — more people than last year. It was great,” said Barstow Police Department Capt. Andrew Espinoza. “We passed out 250-300 hot dogs. A lot of officers mingled with citizens and were getting to know each other. That’s what it’s really all about — a friendly little block party.”

National Night Out events are held the first Tuesday in August. According to the National Night Out website, the event “is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live.”

"The importance of events such as these emphasize the city's commitment to maintaining an ongoing level of engagement from our public safety units to the residents they are sworn to protect,” said Barstow public information officer Anthony Riley.

The Barstow Fire Department, California Highway Patrol, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, Barstow SAFE Coalition, Domestic Violence Outreach, Probation and Neighborhood Watch were also there to give demonstrations and hand out safety information.

“What better way to come together with our law enforcement partners to raise the awareness of what we each do in our community, more importantly to put a face behind the badge,” said Barstow Fire Protection District chief Jamie Williams. “We are responsible to make sure everyone sees the transparent manner in which we each operate.”

A K-9 demonstration showed families how police dogs are led through basic commands and suspect apprehension. The Police Department also handed out goody bags filled with stickers, pens, pencils and an activity book featuring “stranger danger” to the children.

“I got to meet some new people this year — talk to them,” said Espinoza. “It was a very positive night.”