Saturday, May 21, 2011 | 2:18 p.m.
Metro block party
Metro Police officers were keeping a close eye on a downtown block party Saturday, not because they were worried about the crowd getting rowdy, but because they had to make sure the kids were sufficiently covered in stickers and filled with ice cream.
Officers patrolled the party, passing out goodies while a large line formed in the middle of 14th Street between Fremont Street and Ogden Avenue to get free hot dogs, chips and drinks.
“We really try to get out and not just stand on the sideline, but interact with the community,” said Capt. Michael Dalley, who oversees Metro’s Downtown Area Command.
The safety fair ran from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday and included opportunities to pet police dogs and horses, get inside a SWAT vehicle and even climb into a fire truck from Las Vegas Fire & Rescue.
Plus, there was a disc jockey, CPR demonstrations and, of course, lots of food.
Most of the food was donated by Los Compadres supermarket, which expected to run out of 1,200 hot dogs.
The location for the fair is part of a designated “crime-free zone” Metro established that runs along Fremont Street from Main Street to 15th Street.
The police department has installed surveillance cameras in the area and has used extra patrols to focus on reducing crime.
But the fair was a key part of that effort to try to improve the neighborhood, Dalley said.
“As a department, we have to bond with the community,” he said. “I can put cops in this area and we have eyes here, but if we have the community watching, it compounds that.”
With efforts by the city to beautify the area and an influx of businesses along the Fremont East district, the effort seems to be working.
“They’ve got rid of a lot of the riffraff,” said Elda Andreo, who has lived in the area for seven years. “There used to be a lot of crime around here, but I think it’s settled down.”
Andreo brought three of her 13 grandkids to the fair.
“I think it’s a good idea because it brings everybody together. It’s good to meet new people,” she said. “It’s nice. They ought to do it more often.”
Rico Allen said the neighborhood has changed a lot in the past two years and now, “The neighbors look out for each other.”
Plus, it was good for the kids to have good experiences with police officers, said Allen’s neighbor, Doreen Anderson.
“It’s not always them chasing people. It’s something positive,” she said.
And it builds the community, she said.
“It gets everybody out of their apartments,” Anderson said. “It’s good to see everybody laughing instead of just passing by and not knowing if they’re going to jump you.”