National Night Out|Event unites police and community

Published 10:51 am Thursday, August 6, 2009

Special to the Daily News

Washington’s sixth-annual National Night Out celebration returned to Beebe Memorial Park on Tuesday, helping to show off the city’s newly renovated park.
The celebration, sponsored by local police and businesses, was held to recognize the cooperation between the Washington Police Department and the community and the need to curb crime, illegal drugs and violence in the city.
National Night Out events are held across the country through block parties, concerts and cookouts in an effort to heighten crime and drug-prevention awareness and generate support for anti-crime programs.
Event organizer April Corbett’s aim was to unite the community with law-enforcement officers to send a message to criminals in Washington.
“We want the community and law enforcement to show that we are dedicated to stopping crime and drugs, and that we are building a better community,” said Corbett, coordinator of the police department’s Project Next Step, a program that works with at-risk people to help them avoid lives of crime.
The event celebrated cooperation between and understanding among the community and law-enforcement agencies. There were plenty of officers and residents on hand for the music, food and activities offered at the event.
Mayor Judy Meier Jennette opened the celebration by speaking about the National Night Out program and the relationship between the community and police department. Jennette praised the night as a nationwide effort to increase awareness of crime, and she encouraged the development of friendships and trust among the community and police officers,
Although Jennette acknowledged that observing National Night Out is not the answer to fighting crime, drugs and violence, she noted that National Night Out represents the positive spirit that can make neighborhoods a better place.
Police Chief Mick Reed praised the event, saying, “It’s kind of a special that this community has made so much progress, while knowing full well we’ve got a long way to go.”
Washington Housing Authority representative Melvin Ward turned up for the event out of his love for the community.
“This kind of event brings out the community,” Ward said.
Ward, who usually works as a disc jockey at such community events, was happy to be with the community at the celebration.
“I’m just a people person,” Ward said.
Featured at the event were musical and performing acts from the community. Those acts included Deeper Life Ministries’ Warrior Dance Team and St. Peter Episcopal Church’s Praise Band.
Complimentary concessions for the event were provided by the Salvation Army and the police department, which supplied hot dogs and soft drinks.
Organizers plan for the event to return next year for its seventh-consecutive appearance.