To strengthen relationships with the community and heighten awareness of crime, Oberlin police officers welcomed the public Tuesday to their 8th Annual National Night Out event at Park Street Park.
“It’s a great opportunity for the community to come out and have a casual time with their police force,” interim police chief Mike McCloskey said, dressed in shorts rather than his usual uniform.
Auxiliary officer Kayla Smith said the event will help reinforce with young people the importance of trusting law enforcement officials, especially because the two “don’t really mesh well.”
“We want to earn their trust,” she said. “We hope to show them that we come in peace.”
The free event featured hot dogs and hamburgers grilled by Ptl. Jacob Crossan, face painting, a coloring contest, and a raffle to win a backpack full of school supplies.
The basketball courts turned into a dance floor as school officer Billie Neadham’s alter-ego, DJ Dolla Bill, blasted some tunes.
Oberlin resident Tom Abeyta enjoys taking his kids to the festivities every year. He said it’s important see officers as people, not just uniforms.
“These are people putting their lives on the line every day for us and we need to not only respect them but support them,” he said.
Brittany Lovett said she wants a solid relationship between city and law enforcement. A mother of two, she said she needs to know her kids are safe.
Nationally, more than 16,000 communities in all 50 states, Canada, and U.S. military installations took part in the event.
Ptl. Raymond Feuerstein encouraged residents to show support by turning on outside porch lights during early nightfall.
“We want the community to know we’re behind them and we want the community behind us, too,” he said.
Laurie Hamame can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @HamameNews on Twitter.