08 August 2016
McGruff the Crime Dog makes one special friend at the 2016 National Night Out event held at Fort Detrick Aug. 2. National Night Out was established in 1984 with the intent of emphasizing the importance of building police and community partnerships in an effort to prevent crime. Photo by Felix Ortiz, USAG Visual Information
National Night Out a Success
By Lanessa Hill, USAG Public Affairs
On Tuesday, Aug. 2, Fort Detrick residents, both young and old, enjoyed a relaxing evening full of education and fun at National Night Out – an event tailored towards raising awareness about crime and drug prevention through community engagement.

More than 250 people gathered amongst free hot dogs and various activity stations near the Balfour Beatty Community Neighborhood Center to partake in this “going away party for crime." Like many National Night Out events in the past, this year’s event was equally, if not more, engaging and informative thanks to participants, such as Balfour Beatty Community and the Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation program.

Last year alone, more than 37 million people in the United States and Canada participated in National Night Out according to the program’s website, and this year’s numbers are projected to surpass those of last year. One reason for this could be the growing desire to eliminate crime and substance abuse within communities. Neighborhoods are continually realizing the importance of anti-crime programs and maintaining strong police-community partnerships. National Night Out is the perfect opportunity for communities to let criminals know that their neighborhood is organized and fighting back.

One aspect particularly enjoyed at this year’s National Night Out was the opportunity to interact with local law enforcement and learn more about the various tools that these officials use to effectively keep the community safe. The Fort Detrick Fire Department’s fire truck, for example, proved to be an excellent visual aid in educating attendees about how firefighters fight fire

Not to be outdone, the Fort Detrick Police Department also presented an interesting display of tools that their police officers utilize while on the job. These tools included an “Emergency Response Unit” vehicle and real combat gear, including chemical masks, battering rams and bulletproof helmets.

Since many didn’t know any firefighters or police officers personally, National Night Out served as an ideal platform for attendees to become better acquainted with the men and women who keep them safe and to thank those individuals for their service to the community.

National Night Out also highlighted important personal safety topics through four tent stations run by representatives from Family, Morale Welfare and Recreation, Army Community Services, the Fort Detrick Chapel and the Directorate of Plans Training and Mobilization. These stations provided informational material for the event’s attendees, including brochures and pamphlets for the adults to learn more about preventing domestic and child abuse. In order to appeal to the younger generation, the tent stations also passed out coloring books and small toys.

"The best part is the kids had a ball," said Stephen Brooks, chief of police at Fort Detrick.

Brooks noted that one of the unique aspects of National Night Out is that it is “a crime prevention program that allows the police and the public to interact in a non-enforcement situation.”
Posted by PAO

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