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Night to Unite brings 400 out for county event

K-9 patrol "officer" Vulcan and deputy Jeremiah Johnson became acquainted with Makayla Hanson-Steinle and other members of the community at Night to Unite. (Jean Ruzicka / Enterprise)1 / 2
Sheriff Frank Homer took several drops into the tank, kids enjoying the rowdy revelry. (Jean Ruzicka / Enterprise)2 / 2

It was a Night to Unite when the Hubbard County Sheriff's Department hosted the first law enforcement awareness event Tuesday evening.

Sheriff Frank Homer, still shivering from several drops into the dunk tank, told county commissioners Wednesday an estimated 400 people arrived for the first of what he plans to become an annual event..

"I was impressed with the number of children," he said, many of them delighted to toss the ball at the officers in uniform at the dunk tank.

Children were also interested in the role Vulcan, the canine "officer," plays in the department. (A pesky little stray hound distracted the fellow on a few occasions, but he performed well for his audience.)

Homer said thanks to monetary contributions and donations by Nei Bottling, the event, which included a free barbecue dinner, cost the department next to nothing.

"It was a fun time, a fantastic number of people," Homer said, "with great comments and attitudes."

The spirit of the evening was in contrast to what law enforcement officers experience on a day-to-day basis, he said. "We're used to the negative. The majority of time it's a crisis. To be relating on a positive note was fun."

The event is similar to National Night Out, now in its 26th year. While Night Out is a means of neighbor meeting neighbor, Night to Unite is a "celebration of partnerships" with law enforcement to reduce crime.

Those arriving met members of the sheriff's posse - and their horses - the SWAT unit, members of the boat and water team and viewed some of the apparatus used by law enforcement. A children's ID station was available as were "drunk goggles," to simulate inebriated driving.

Next year, plans call for warmer water in the dunk tank, Homer said.