Visitors pack Alabaster Night Out on Crime event
Published 11:41 am Wednesday, October 7, 2015
By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor
ALABASTER – Three-and-a-half-year-old Anderson Sibley was captivated as he looked into the air and saw the Pelham Police Department’s drone hovering over the crowd in the Alabaster Target parking lot on Oct. 6.
“I’ve got to show Mimi that when she comes up here!” Anderson shouted excitedly to his mother, Kellie.
For Anderson, the drone was the latest eye-catching wonder at the National Night Out event at Alabaster’s South Promenade shopping center. Having already gotten an up-close look at one of the Alabaster Fire Department’s engines, he couldn’t contain his excitement.
“I like the fire trucks, and when the ladders go up and when there are firefighters up there,” Anderson said after petting the Pelham Police Department’s K-9 officer, Zena.
For the law enforcement and fire agencies in attendance at the event, Anderson’s reactions were exactly what they were looking for.
Throughout the evening, the local agencies, including the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, the Alabaster, Helena and Pelham police departments, the Alabaster Fire Department, the FBI, Alabama National Guard and more, set up tents and equipment in the Target parking lot in an effort to have a laid-back interaction with the public.
The event was one of thousands of similar Night Out events held across the nation on Oct. 6.
“The bad thing about our particular profession is that when someone has to call us, it is a stressful situation,” said Alabaster Police Chief Curtis Rigney. “We don’t get many opportunities to interact with citizens in a non-stressful environment.
“With events like this, with Coffee with a Cop, it’s good for everyone involved,” Rigney said.
Among the dozens of visitors to the three-hour event were Katie Hogle and her daughter, Olivia Lou. Having just moved to Shelby County, the event was a good opportunity to learn about the area, Katie Hogle said.
Although Katie Hogle said her daughter was shy when they arrived at the event, she quickly came out of her shell.
“I like the fire truck!” Olivia Lou shouted when asked about her favorite part of the event. “I’m firefighter Olivia Lou.”
Zena and her handler, Pelham officer Michael Morris, were a popular stop for visitors of all ages.
“The kids love it. (Zena) gets to be sociable and get out of that normal, everyday stuff,” Morris said. “With everything that’s going on now, it sheds light on the good things we’re doing.”