Nick Obligacion walked up to a table Tuesday night in Del Webb with a disarming quality you would expect from a Chief of Police.
He had shunned the shirt and tie for the traditional blue uniform – complete with the four stars on his collar – as he made the rounds on the 30th anniversary of National Night Out. This is what he’s been pushing ever since he took over the position that was vacated when colleague and former chief Dave Bricker retired almost two years ago.
It isn’t every day that Obligacion – who will have 22-years with the department in December – gets to see the crux of his agenda play out before him across the city. More than 40 registered parties took place Tuesday night. The spirit of things were right in line with what he believes is best for the safety of the community as a whole.
“The whole idea of National Night Out in the community is people getting together for a crime free night, and that’s one of the things that I’ve been big on pushing forward,” he said. “It’s a chance for people to be able to put a face with the name, and for them to come together and interact with one another.
“One of the things that I’ve said is that we have 63 sworn and 70,000 residents, and that’s 70,000 pairs of eyes that are going to help us help them. This reinforces that.”
Tuesday night also gave Obligacion some unique opportunities that he doesn’t get on a daily basis.
At the first house that he stopped at – he popped in to parties throughout the night with his wife Sally as well as Councilman Steve DeBrum and his wife Veronica – he chatted up a new resident to the community that was curious about some of the things that he had heard.
While he isn’t too keen on the word “transparency,” he was quick to point out that there’s an awful lot of that on the department’s website and that the department as a whole has made a push to make things like crime stats readily available to those that want them.
It would be kind of hard, he said, to talk about making Manteca a safer place to live and raise a family when there aren’t any concrete numbers to back that up.
Councilman John Harris didn’t ride with Obligacion to Del Webb on Tuesday, but he spent a portion of his evening chatting with the same people and watching the man that he tapped for the city’s top law enforcement reinforcing the ideals that he pushes for.
Himself a veteran of the law enforcement field as a retired probation officer, Harris said that he sees great value in an event like National Night Out and giving the community the chance to socialize and chat with those behind the badge.
“It’s all about communication. People get to see a smiling face and officers get to see a smiling face instead of the stressful situations that they’re used to responding to,” Harris said. “I enjoy sitting back and watching these people interact. This is about personalization, and it’s important to see that.”