Aug. 5 National Night Out aims to strengthen police relationships
On Aug. 5 local authorities will reach out to strengthen their relationships with children and their families.
That Tuesday, the Warwick Police Department, in collaboration with its sponsors, the National Night Out Committee and Target, will hold its annual National Night Out (NNO) at the Oakland Beach Commons from 5 to 9:30 p.m.
Councilwoman Donna M. Travis (D-Ward 6) is the chairperson for the National Night Out. She said this free event is geared toward making people, especially children, feel more at ease around authority figures.
Lt. Michael Gilbert, commanding officer of the Warwick Police Department Community Services Division, believes that a major reason why children fear authorities is because their parents sometimes use them as a threat.
“Although they have good intentions,” Gilbert explained, “when parents tell their child if they do not stop misbehaving the police will take them away, it does not always send the right message about authorities to the child. But when these children come to the National Night Out event and see policemen smiling and handing out balloons, it definitely puts us in a completely different light to them.”
Travis said the event also promotes anti-crime/violence and anti-drug use, which is beneficial for people of all ages. Crime Watch committees from the neighborhoods of Oakland Beach, Buttonwoods, Norwood, and Lincoln Park will be present. “Some people aren’t even aware that their neighborhoods have these programs to reach out to,” said Travis.
The Police Honor Guard, the U.S. Naval Sea Cadets Honor Guard, and other branches of the Armed Forces, such as the National Guard, will be at this event. There will be demonstrations on safety, as well as demonstrations to show how equipment works and what it is used for. The Warwick Fire Department will bring a smoke house, which is designed to simulate fire emergencies and will inform the public on the steps they should take if they find themselves in real life emergency situations.
Firefighters will also demonstrate how they use the “Jaws of Life.”
There will be face painting, a karate demonstration from the Don Rodrigues Karate Academy, Native American drummers, a DJ, as well as raffles that all can enter into to win prizes. There will also be appearances from Officer Friendly and McGruff the Crime Dog. Concluding the evening, there will be a fireworks display, courtesy of the city Department of Tourism.
This local event has sprouted from the national event, “America’s Night Out Against Crime,” organized by Matt Peskin, the executive director of the National Association of Town Watch (NATW) in 1984. This year an estimated 16,124 communities will observe National Night Out. The goal of the annual summer event is to strengthen the relationships between communities and their local authorities and solidify their unification for local crime prevention and awareness.
Travis said NNO does just that.
“This event will help in heightening awareness that we are all here for each other, and that we are all willing to help those who are in need,” she said.
NNO is made possible by funds from the Warwick Police Department, the Department of Tourism, as well as donations from local businesses. Target supports the event by providing volunteers, as well as gives grants and donates giveaways.
Go to natw.org for more information.