Community events bring police, civilians together

Published 7:22 pm Friday, August 9, 2019

For 35 years, National Night Out has helped bridge the gap between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve. Offering a fun and casual environment, the event has grown in popularity in recent years, with events being held in Washington, Belhaven and Aurora.

On Tuesday, Washington and Belhaven held National Night Out festivities, hosted by each town’s police departments. Blending fun and games with educational resources, both events had a good turnout, serving as an opportunity for residents to get to know their police forces, and vice versa.

For both the Belhaven and Washington police departments, the event ties in with community policing efforts, which in turn foster better relationships between officers and everyday people.

“I think it’s very important that the citizens get to know the officers on a personal basis instead of an adversarial situation,” Washington Police Chief Stacy Drakeford said. “That goes a long way in developing friendships and developing trust. If you get to know each other as a person, you have the opportunity to foster those relationships.”

“I don’t think it needs to be an us versus them mentality or an us versus them relationship,” added Belhaven Police Chief Fred Clingenpeel. “We’re all in this together. We can’t do our jobs as good as possible without the community and they’re buy in. We need them to tell us what’s going on in their neighborhoods and we need to be seen as approachable, as personable — as people.”

Aurora’s National Night out is scheduled for Saturday evening, from 5 to 9 p.m., at the Aurora Community Center. The event is sponsored by the Aurora Community Watch, the Aurora Fire Department, the Aurora Rescue Squad and the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office and all are welcome to attend.