A long-standing tradition was relived on August 7, as the community came together with the Police Department at Greenwood Playground in Windsor Terrace for National Night Out.
The event — founded by the National Association of Town Watch 29 years ago — is celebrated around the country on the first Tuesday of August, and focuses on building ties between cops and community, and garnering support for and participation in local anti-crime programs.
In between hula hooping, police car rides and hopping in the back of an ambulance provided by the Lutheran Medical Center, children who flocked to the 72nd Precinct event with their parents listened attentively to what was said by several community members.
For example, Councilmember Sara Gonzalez spoke about a child who stood outside the playground where Night Out was taking place. He feared that he would get in trouble after seeing the large presence of police officers in the park, and refused to walk in. Gonzalez explained to the little boy that the officers were there to be his friends, and finally got him to participate.
“This is what this night is about,” Gonzalez said, “having fun!”
The highlight of the night for P.O. Dean Hanan, who works in the 72nd Precinct’s community office, was “to let the community know that the precinct is there for them.” Hanan wants the public to be educated; he wants families to be intact, to stay away from domestic violence, and most importantly to be prepared for emergency situations. He believes that “events like this,” are ideal for the neighborhood to get to know the police officers, and vice-versa.
Assistant Chief Thomas Chan, the commanding officer of Patrol Borough Brooklyn South, stressed that cops believe that “one crime is one too many. To prevent crime, he said, “it is very important for police officer to be working closely with the community.”
Attendees aimed to make a difference and followed the tradition of letting criminals know that it is the community that owns the streets.
Anabel Soto, a Bushwick resident, who was accompanied by her daughter, Ximena, said that she believes it’s essential to “coexist with the police.”
Ximena, nine, was going to be singing “musica ranchera,” traditional Mexican music, and added that “thanks to them [NYPD, FDNY] many lives are saved.”
That’s what motivated the two to be a part of the National Night Out experience, as well as the live music, and the free food and drinks that included tastings from the local restaurants.
The quantity of food definitely was an inspiration. “We’re not going to leave until all that food is gone!” said one excited attendee.