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Let’s face it, while for most of us police officers are heroes, that is not universally true.

It doesn’t help when two officers on horseback are shown walking a handcuffed African American arrestee with a well-known history of mental illness through the streets of Galveston, Texas, tethered to a rope.

It also is not helpful to the public’s perception of law enforcement when officers are on video threatening to shoot a woman sitting in a car holding her infant.

While image is purported to be everything, the truth — and most of us know this oh, so well — police officers are our protectors, and in many cases our friends.

That’s what makes hundreds of Santa Marians showing up at Preisker Park earlier this week so special for the National Night Out celebration, which each year pays homage to community policing, and the partnerships between those providing police services and citizens who are being served.

Tuesday’s Night Out event featured music, games and demonstrations of all sorts, thanks to the participation of more than 60 community organizations.

Events such as National Night Out give kids and their parents an opportunity to interact with uniformed police officers in a friendly, fun environment, helping to cement the bond between police and their community, and to remind citizens that being a cop is one of the toughest jobs in any community.

And because it’s Saturday, roses to organizers and participants in National Night Out.

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One of a beat cop’s most difficult situations involves interactions with folks suffering with mental-health problems, which helps emphasize the importance of getting help for the people who really need it.

Enter Santa Maria’s Marian Regional Medical Center, which has launched a plan to develop an array of mental-health treatment programs.

Hospital officials made a presentation about the center’s plans to the City Council earlier this week, the importance of which was underlined by the current national debate over the relationship between gun violence and mental health.

Three mass shootings in one week also emphasizes the importance of mental health, although research has shown that very few mass shootings are the work of someone suffering with mental-health problems.

The most powerful connection between such violence and mental-health sufferers is the fact that so many of them commit suicide, which also is turning into a national epidemic.

Santa Maria is Santa Barbara County’s largest city, but has limited mental-health programs and lacks an adequate supply of in-patient treatment beds, which means the transfer of people out of town.

Roses to Marian’s decision makers for recognizing this, and its effort to do something about a community problem.

***

There was a seminal community event in Solvang in the summer of 1974, and we bet not many of you reading this could name what it was.

We’ll help out — the Solvang Festival Theater was officially born Aug. 7, 1974, so its 45th birthday was celebrated earlier this week.

And last night, Pacific Conservatory of Performing Arts (PCPA) actors celebrated the birthday with a performance of “The Addams Family,” with repeat performances through the 25th of this month.

We bring this up — offering cast and crew a bouquet of roses — for continuing efforts to keep the performing arts alive and well in the Santa Ynez Valley.

The theater has hosted more than 200 theatrical productions, concerts and community events over the past 45 years, including recent additions, Family Night at the Theater and Sunday Jazz series.

Here’s to many more years!

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