Police, community bond at National Night Out
Five-year-old Karis Hallson of Alabaster bore a freshly painted pink flower on her left cheek as she and her mother Heather navigated the crowds at the 26th-annual National Night Out on Tuesday at Target.
Together the two explored the insides of police squad cars, fire trucks, Army Humvees, ambulances and helicopters as law enforcement, military and rescue personnel happily explained their respective mode of transportation. It was a fun and memorable lesson for mother and daughter.
“This is really neat for the kids,” Heather said. “It’s a good way to bring the community together and to see people from a bunch of places that you know.”
Lowering the barrier between police and community has long been the goal of National Night Out, first held in 1984. Shelby County adopted the event in 2002.
Shelby County Sheriff Chris Curry, whose office coordinates National Night Out, said the event humanizes the men and women who protect and serve the community.
“This event brings together the community, law enforcement and first responders when there’s not an emergency,” Curry said. “The public has the opportunity to pick up information, ask questions and get comfortable with us. They see that we are people too.”
Alabaster Police Sgt. Coleman White agrees with Curry, saying National Night Out is the perfect icebreaker.
“This event allows us to really interact with the community,” White said. “If you don’t live next to a cop or go to church with a cop, you’re probably not going to ask them a question out of the blue.”
Families visited booths set up by various agencies while the local band Common Thread performed. Target, the event sponsor, provided free hot dogs, drinks, chips and cookies.
National Night Out was a success by all accounts. White had only one request for next year.
“We’re gonna pray for cooler weather,” he said.
2009 National Night Out Participants
Shelby County Sheriff’s Office
Alabaster Police Department
Alabaster Fire and Rescue
Helena Police Department
Pelham Police Department
Regional Paramedical Services
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Bureau of Tobacco, Alcohol, Firearms and Explosives
U.S. National Guard
Shelby County YMCA
Shelby Humane Society