Schnelker Memorial Park in downtown New Haven was a busy place Tuesday evening as city residents celebrated National Night Out. In the process of mingling with neighbors, dunking celebrities and public safety workers, listening to country music and learning how to take a bite out of crime they consumed a large amount of hot dogs, potato chips, cupcakes and refreshing drinks.
Police, fire and emergency vehicles were on the scene for residents' inspection and members of the Emergency Response Team answered questions about their equipment and work. Four-footed police K9 officer Remi and her handler, Officer Scott Adam, greeted party-goers and demonstrated her skills.
The event, which was marked in towns across the nation for the 29th consecutive year, was sponsored by the city of New Haven and its Police Department to promote police/community partnerships and offer public education on crime prevention.
As Detective Henry McKinnon explained, “Night Out is designed to inform our residents about various police and community programs in order to strengthen neighborhood spirit. We encourage people to keep their porch lights on and know their neighbors because the best defense against crime is public education and watchful eyes in the neighborhoods.”
McKinnon added, “the fact that New Haven is relatively free of crime doesn't mean that we can let down our guard. We've been able to keep the crime rate low because we have the cooperation of our neighborhood associations and partly because of the annual National Night Out. In addition, we have a highly trained staff of police, fire and emergency responders who are committed to making sure our community is a safe place to live.”
Warren and Mary Lou Weltner have attended National Night Out events the past four years. “We enjoy seeing what's new with the police and fire departments. We keep our post lamp on all evening and have motion-activated lights around the house to discourage burglars.”
Free chances were given away to win Jury Pool passes and a motorized Peg-Perego John Deere tractor. A dunk tank, featuring K105 morning show hosts Dan and Dude and various public safety workers took their places above the water to help raise funds for the Police Department's K9 program. The department needs two K9s because one, Riley, died earlier this year and another, Brit, has developed arthritis and will be retiring soon. The Bounce House (moon walk) was popular with the kids.
Parents took advantage of the opportunity to have their children fingerprinted and entered into a database in case the child is ever lost.