Gulfport’s Public Safety Night Celebrates Community

Amos the Wonder Horse greets (from left) Kayden Wright, Kayleb Wright and Demetrius Godfrey, as handler Shelly Mizrahi of Just Say Whoa to Bullying talks to attendees about therapy animals.

The City of Gulfport’s Public Safety Night, organized by the city and the Gulfport Police Department, was held on Thursday, October 3 at the Michael J. Yakes Recreation Complex. Formerly known as Gulfport Night Out, this longstanding annual event is a chance for the community to connect with its police and fire departments, as well as officials and employees from other departments that keep the city of Gulfport running. 

“The idea,” said Gulfport Police Chief Rod Vincent, “is to say, ‘Everyone come out, hang out with us, meet us, get to know us. We’re people.’” 

Attendees of all ages were able get a closer look at a variety of police vehicles, fire trucks, marine patrol boats and a mobile crime scene investigation unit. The family friendly event was especially a hit with the kids, with no shortage of games and prizes, a K-9 demonstration, and the opportunity to get bicycles inspected and registered – and to pick up a free helmet courtesy of the police department. 

The event was also an opportunity to learn valuable public safety information.

“Did you know you could text to 911?” asked Lori Collins, Public Educator for Pinellas County 911, who attended the event. She explained that Tampa Bay has the fifth largest population of hearing-impaired citizens in the United States making the text option is a great benefit for area residents. 

“I think it’s a staple now, for our law enforcement culture in Gulfport,” said Gulfport Police Commander Josh Stone, “just to make sure we participate, try to reach out to the citizens, to inform them of what we do and who we interact with on a daily basis.” 

Florida Highway Patrol State Trooper Tod G. Cloud talks to Philip Rupchev about the importance of safety belts after a demonstration of the rollover simulator.

Gulfport Police Explorer Clara Gowen, left, holds down the police department’s tent, handing out prizes and helmets, and answering questions along with Daniel Hutsko and Officer Zack Mills.

A walking cast wasn’t going to stop Arabella (left) from getting a picture with Chase the German Shepherd from Paw Patrol. She’s joined by Dreama, who both seemed excited by the kid-friendly activities at Public Safety Night.

Gulfport Teen Council members Haley Wyble, Cadence Rowell, Connor Rowell and Ethan Vanslyke help Mymy get her raffle tickets in hopes of winning a gift basket packed with prizes.

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