Aug. 5—QUINCY — The Chief for a Day was sworn in — by a judge, too — there were police cars and police motorcycles, fire trucks, games, fun cars, hot dogs and ice cream. There was a lot to do and see at National Night Out sponsored by the Quincy Police Department Monday evening.
Chief for a Day Christopher James was sworn in by Grant County Superior Court Judge John Knodell. James is 12 years of age, which, said QPD Chief Keith Siebert, is just the right age to be.
The Chief for a Day program allows children with disabilities, or who are dealing with chronic or life-threatening illnesses, to have a day just for fun.
"Chief for a Day gives the kids a chance to forget about the long-term disability that they have and just celebrate with their family being the chief for a day," Siebert said. "Almost all kids love the pageantry of being in law enforcement — they love our cars with the flashing lights. We just try to honor them as much as we can and help them enjoy today."
The Chief for a Day gets a uniform and a badge, which in James' case was pinned on by his mom Yesenia and his dad Joseph. In addition, James will ride with the QPD in the parade at Farmer Consumer Awareness Day in September.
"It's a great day," Siebert said.
The Chief for a Day is chosen from among children nominated by Quincy School District personnel, local churches, other organizations and sometimes people from the community, Siebert said.
Traditionally Chief for a Day is a countywide event spearheaded by the Grant County Sheriff's Office, involving law enforcement and fire agencies from throughout the county. The countywide event was canceled for 2022, and QPD decided to do their own, Siebert said.
"We decided it was such an important event for our police department and our community that we needed to make sure it happened," he said. "We thought a great way to do that is to combine it with National Night Out."
National Night Out filled Lauzier Park with law enforcement organizations and interesting equipment, from the QPD patrol vehicles to the GCSO motorcycles and a command vehicle. There were fire trucks, and the Washington State Patrol was giving away plastic WSP hats to children. Organizations had plenty of games — that ring toss was really hard — and information, along with a lot of giveaways and food. The Grant County C-10 car club put together a car meet, complete with a raffle for children's bicycles.
"We want to give something back to our community," said Jimmy Tarango of the car club.
"I would say it's a pretty good turnout," said QPD Sergeant Julie Fuller, the NNO organizer, as she dipped roasted corn on the cob into a tub of melted butter. Quincy businesses and organizations provided a lot of support, Fuller said, including monetary donations, and where organizers had to buy things, they received a discounted price.
Children could climb in the fire truck and hit the siren, and that became very popular when children learned that it was okay, just this once. Grant County Fire District 3 Chief Tony Leibelt said NNO gives the department a chance to show people what the fire service is about.
"It seems like a good fit, if you ask me," Leibelt said.
Children sat on the GCSO motorcycles, with their parents snapping pictures. Quincy Valley Medical Center officials were there with a beanbag toss that featured the patient from the Operation board game. Children played a game using spheres made of sponges in place of water balloons.
"It's just a good event," said Josh Sainsbury, GCSO chief deputy for emergency operations.
The big bus filled with equipment that serves as the GCSO command post was open for children and adults to take a look around. Children could get stick-on badges from GCSO and WSP. Bryan Villanueva of the WSP said events like National Night Out are a good way to connect with the community, and that WSP troopers try to attend as many community events as they can.
The parking lots around Lauzier Park and the adjoining street were filled with cars, and the park was full of children playing on a sunny and hot, but not too hot, evening.
"It's fun to see the kids — and the adults — here," Leibelt said.
Cheryl Schweizer may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more of Cheryl's content by downloading the Columbia Basin Herald app, available for Android and iPhone.