Hundreds gathered at Newkirk Park Tuesday night to take part in a national event designed to bring communities together.
Organized by local law enforcement and the Newkirk Park Advisory Committee, National Night Out is an annual event celebrated across the world as a community-building campaign that promotes relationships between police departments and communities. The event strives to bring together law enforcement and the community they serve in order to make neighborhoods safer and build a trust among the citizens and residents it covers.
“We want our communities and neighborhoods to come together and get to know each other,” Nettie Pernell, member of the Newkirk Advisory Committee said, as she welcomed everyone to the event. “It’s important for our children and their families to know who the local law enforcement officers are and not be afraid just because they see them in uniform.”
In his welcoming speech to the crowd, Clinton mayor Lew Starling thanked those in attendance for coming out to the community-building event designed to promote positive relationships between local law enforcement and the people they serve.
On behalf of the Clinton Police Department, Lt. Alpha Clowney offered a few words to the crowd.
“This celebration is about the community and coming together as one,” Clowney said.
Last year was Clinton’s first time participating in the event, which annually hosts millions of people in thousands of communities across the United States, U.S. territories, Canadian cities and military bases throughout the world.
“We want our communities and neighborhoods to come together and get to know each other,” Pernell said. “It’s important for our children and their families to know who the local law enforcement officers are and not be afraid just because they see them in uniform.”
Event goers to this year’s celebration had an opportunity to meet with members of the Clinton City Council, Clinton Police Department, Sampson County Sheriff’s Department, Clinton Fire Department, National Wildlife Service, emergency and rescue personnel and representatives from the local health department, Sampson Regional Medical Center and Eastpointe. Local organizations and churches joined the celebration.
Additionally, there was food, a bouncy house, K9 demonstrations, an obstacle course designed by the North Carolina Justice Academy and photo opportunities with emergency vehicles available at no charge.
The National Night Out program was introduced in 1984 by Matt Peskin, founder and executive director of National Association of Town Watch. More than 2.5 million participated in the inaugural celebration, which has grown each year with safety demonstrations, seminars, youth events and exhibits.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.