Public, law enforcement come together at National Night Out
By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor
ALABASTER – It didn’t take Elizabeth Ray, who was at Alabaster’s National Night Out on Crime on Oct. 4, long to determine her favorite part of the event.
“The fire truck!” she said excitedly when asked what she enjoyed the most.
Her mother, Heather, said it runs in the family.
“Her dad is a firefighter,” Heather Ray said.
But for Elizabeth’s brother, Parker, something else had caught his eye.
“The Alabaster Police Department was my favorite,” he said after thinking for a moment. “I liked them because they had the Special Operations Unit there.”
For a few hours on Oct. 4, several law enforcement, fire and nonprofit and government agencies filled the parking lot of the Alabaster Target store in the South Promenade shopping center during the annual National Night Out event, which was one of thousands of similar events held across the nation over the past few months.
During the event, the agencies showcased some of their equipment – such as all-terrain vehicles, firetrucks and police cruisers – while having a chance to meet one-on-one with local residents in a non-stressful environment.
“It’s a good opportunity for people to see law enforcement officers in a calm, non-stressful environment,” said Alabaster Police Chief Curtis Rigney. “And it’s a good opportunity for us to get to visit with kids and adults and tell them about law enforcement.
“Who knows, the kid sitting on the four-wheeler over there right now may be the police chief for the city of Alabaster one day,” Rigney said.
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, the National Weather Service and more, set up tents and equipment in the Target parking lot in an effort to interact with the public.
Shelby County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Kevin Brand echoed Rigney’s comments.
“It’s a great chance for us to come out and interact with the community,” Brand said. “Most of the time, we only see people when they call us or they need us. Those are usually pretty high-stress situations.
“We enjoy getting to meet with them on neutral ground,” Brand added.