Night off from crimePublished 5:53pm Thursday, July 18, 2013
It happens once a year: a block party that spans the width and breadth of America. National Night Out is law enforcement’s way of forging a stronger relationship with the community and a solidarity to fight crime, together.
On Aug. 6, Washington’s National Night Out will be hosted at Beebe Memorial Park, and everyone’s invited.
“I want people to come out and enjoy it. It’s free — you can’t go wrong with free,” laughed Kimberly Grimes, Outreach Coordinator for the Washington Police Department. Grimes has enlisted the help of many local organizations to take part in an event that’s part education, but mostly fun.
“We have many more people coming out this year,” Grimes said. “I think they’re starting to see what we’re actually doing in the community.”
Washington Police and Fire Services, Washington Housing Authority, Beaufort County Crime Stoppers, U.S. Coast Guard, the Salvation Army, Beaufort County Health Department, Coldwell Banker Realty, N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Beaufort County, National Guard and others represent the educational aspects of National Night Out.
But there’s plenty of fun stuff too, Grimes said.
Raffles, cake walks, a Washington High School dance team performance, a D.J. to provide the music and a bouncy house to jump around in; hula-hoop and long jump contests, hotdogs, sodas, a dunking booth where kids will have the opportunity to dunk their favorite police officer, are all part of the National Night Out package this year. Grimes said many local businesses have pitched in to the effort, as well.
“A lot of downtown businesses have donated items for the raffle, “Grimes said. “And Walmart has donated two bikes for kids.”
National Night Out is a larger version of what the Washington Police Department is doing on a bimonthly basis: “meet and greets” in various neighborhoods, where snacks, giveaways and tours of emergency and patrol vehicles are offered — all part of an effort to bridge the communication gap between law enforcement and the people it serves.
“The point is, most of the time, they see (officers) in uniform — they never see the other side,” Grimes said. “On National Night Out, the community and law enforcement come together with the same common goal: the fight against crime.”
For Grimes, events like these are a way to think “outside the box,” and to reach at-risk children early.
National Night Out will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Aug. 6. Beebe Memorial Park is located at West 11th and North Bridge streets.