NEWINGTON - Itâ€™s almost time to party with the police.
The Newington Police Department is hosting its first-ever National Night Out Against Crime next Tuesday, Aug. 1, from 5 to 8 p.m. in Mill Pond Park, in conjunction with Newington Parks and Recreation.
As one of 16,000 American communities to host a National Night Out event this year, the town is working on its police-community partnership.
Police Chief Stephen Clark brought the idea to the department from his former post in Vernon last year, and enlisted Community Services Officer Jamie DeSimone to plan it.
The aim is making the town a safer place for all, by strengthening the bond between citizens and the law enforcement that protects them.
â€śUltimately what weâ€™re looking to do that evening is make every officer a community relations officer,â€ť DeSimone said this week. â€śIf we develop those relationships, people will feel comfortable calling us when they want to make an anonymous tip and trust that we wonâ€™t release their name. It allows us to open up the lines of communication with the public to reduce and prevent crime.â€ť
Families can consider the evening a gesture of gratitude from local officers.
â€śFor us, itâ€™s about giving back to our community,â€ť DeSimone explained. â€śWeâ€™re not just here when times are tough or in response to negative situations, weâ€™re a government agency that wants to show appreciation to the people we serve for their ongoing support.â€ť
Whether walking down to the event from a neighborhood nearby the park or driving across town to partake, the fun will be totally free, DeSimone added.
â€śNo money is necessary at all for the evening. Weâ€™re not seeking public donations. People donâ€™t have to reach into their pockets whatsoever.â€ť
There will be a giant three-story slide, family games and a K-9 demonstration. Food served (while it lasts) will include popcorn, ice cream, hot dogs, snacks and water. Visitors can explore old-fashioned police vehicles parked on-site, along with the Mid-State Chiefs Major Crime Unit. There will also be a police vs. citizens tug-of-war.
Insight will be offered on several recent topics of interest, including the creation of Neighborhood Block Watch programs. Residents of Cheney Lane and Goodale Drive have established a successful program with more than 30 participants. Information will be available for those considering starting similar initiatives in their own neighborhoods.
Police have welcomed lots of volunteers and sponsors, to keep the evening running smoothly and allow them to focus on interacting with the public.
For Connecticut Insurance Exchange, supporting the department is a company priority.
â€śWe think having a good relationship with law enforcement is beneficial to everyone,â€ť Vice President Melanie Tregoning said. â€śWhen people treat officers as human beings and officers treat people as human beings, they get to know each other as people and connect on a human level. The police are not there as an antagonist; theyâ€™re there as a friend and a partner, just like Connecticut Insurance Exchange is there for their clients as a friend and partner,â€ť she continued. â€śItâ€™s a two-way street when it comes to keeping our community safe. We all need to work together.â€ť
Erica Schmitt can be reached at 860-801-5097, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you go:
WHAT: National Night Out with Newington Police
WHEN: Tuesday, Aug. 1 from 5-8 p.m.
WHERE: Mill Pond Park, Newington
HOW: Itâ€™s all free
CT Insurance Exchange
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Newington Rotary Club
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