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Residents respond to National Night Out

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People came out in force Tuesday night to meet first responders and get an up-close look at the equipment they use during this year’s National Night Out in the parking lot outside Target on Main Street.

Throughout the event, people marveled at the apparel, vehicles and weapons used by Roswell, Hagerman and Dexter police, the Chaves County Sheriff’s Office, New Mexico National Guard, Roswell Fire Department and others.

Children climbed in and out of police vehicles, Hummers, firetrucks, ambulances and armored military vehicles, tried on protective equipment and even military machine guns that were not loaded, while their parents snapped pictures on their smartphones.

Other children got to use a firehose by taking part in the Kids Combat Challenge, a firefighter-themed obstacle course created by the Roswell Fire Department.

Roswell is one of 16,000 communities in all 50 states as well as on military bases and U.S. territories to take part in the National Night Out, according to the website of the National Association of Town Watch, the organization that launched the first National Night Out in 1984.

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Richard Lucero, a neighborhood watch advisor to the Roswell Police who has organized Roswell’s National Night Out for the last 10 years, said the event helps bring citizens together with police and emergency personnel.

“We are giving them the opportunity to meet their first responders one on one,” Lucero said.

Vanessa Lucero said she and her children were doing some back-to-school shopping when she saw the vehicles and crowds in the parking lot.

“We saw the SWAT vehicle and then we saw the other trucks, and we wanted to see what was going on,” she said.

Jeremy Sanchez was at the event with his son Joaquin, 6, said he enjoys the experience of seeing police and first responders up close.

“I think it builds further community and lets us see each other without just passing each other by,” he said.

Many first responders at the scene say the same. Pablo Macias, a Roswell resident, is with the New Mexico State Police Bomb Squad, which started participating in Roswell’s National Night Out last year. This year, he brought with him a bomb truck, an x-ray machine that detects explosive devices and heavy armor.

He said throughout the night, people walking around were attracted to his equipment with children trying it on frequently, something that offers first responders and the public to interact in a way they typically do not.

“Kids, parents, first responders — we all get to mingle out here and know each other on a personal level, on a first-name basis,” Macias said.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at breakingnews@rdrnews.com.