Ben Miller (left) and his daughters, Emma and Regan, tour the Granite Shoals Police Department’s mobile command center with Chief John Ortis during National Night Out in Quarry Park on Tuesday, Oct. 4. Granite Shoals residents turned out in droves for food, fun, and face-to-face time with the city's first responders. Staff photos by Dakota Morrissiey
National Night Out is a community-building campaign with events held across the United States each year to promote police and community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie.
Dozens of first responders and their vehicles turned out for the Granite Shoals event alongside droves of residents. Officials handed out free hot dogs and snow cones and kids won an array of prizes. Tours were given of an Air Evac Lifeteam helicopter and the Granite Shoals Police Department mobile command center. Residents mingled with police officers, firefighters, and emergency services personnel.
Police Sgt. Chad Taliaferro planned the National Night Out event in 10 days at the direction of Chief John Ortis and managed to bring a staggering number of Granite Shoals officials, employees, and residents together.
“(Community outreach) is our number one priority. We’re very community oriented,” Taliaferro said. “Our last chief was like this, our new chief is like this.”
Taliaferro has been with the department for three years and previously spent 10 years with the Burnet County Sheriff’s Office and 13 years with the Marble Falls Police Department. He agrees with the community-focused mission of newly named Chief Ortis.
“Any time the community can come out and see us when we’re not in action, I think that is a positive,” Taliaferro said.
The city of Granite Shoals has been experiencing a good deal of upheaval in 2022, so Ortis thought it important to have an uplifting event for the community.
“We want to bring some positives out. A lot of what Granite Shoals is being seen as is negative,” Chief Ortis told DailyTrib.com. “Granite Shoals is a great place. I live here, I work here, I play here. I care about these kids and residents, and so do every one of my police officers and city employees.”
Mayor Pro Tem Aaron Garcia was serving free hot dogs at the event and emphasized the importance of being part of the community you serve. This is Garcia’s first term on the Granite Shoals City Council. As mayor pro tem, he could soon become mayor if Will Skinner resigns.
“Community involvement is always good, to see that we are human and that we’re involved in the community as citizens but also as elected officials or employees of the city,” he said.