First responders, community come together for Alabaster National Night Out

Published 1:34 pm Wednesday, September 22, 2021

By WILLIAM MARLOW | Special to the Reporter

ALABASTER – The Alabaster Police Department celebrated its seventh annual National Night Out on Tuesday, Sept. 14, where residents had the opportunity to learn about the inner workings of law enforcement.

During the event, county, state and federal law enforcement addressed a variety of topics related to their everyday jobs, ranging from criminal investigation, evidence collecting and types of emergency situations.

This year’s festival was one of the city’s biggest to date, according to the event’s coordinator, Community Relations Officer John St. Pierre, with more than 100 people attending the two-hour event.

“We’re extremely thankful for everyone that came out,” he said. “The turnout was amazing and as a matter of fact this was the largest that we have ever had.”

A host of law enforcement equipment and vehicles were on display during the event with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office emergency helicopter and SWAT truck being among the largest vehicles. As part of the exhibit, other equipment showcased included drones, riot gear and a variety of firearms.

County and federal law enforcement were also present with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) and the FBI Evidence Response Team being among the highlights. Other emergency responders included the Alabaster Fire Department, who debuted the department’s Engine 19 fire truck.

Members of the U.S. Army also made a special appearance as well.

In addition to being an informative session for the public, St. Pierre described the event’s relationship-building opportunities as one of the most beneficial impacts.

“This is one of the events that we look forward to every year,” he said. “The whole goal of the program is to build relationships in a positive and fun environment. The community gets to know the officers that protect them each and every day, and having that kind of relationship and interaction is invaluable.”

St. Pierre said those interactions help promote public safety as residents feel more comfortable reporting a problem or issue once a prior relationship exists.

“They feel confident and comfortable with reaching out and allowing us to help, and without that communication and without that relationship, we could not do our jobs,” St. Pierre said. “So, National Night Out is the chance to bring everybody together.”

Among his other favorite moments, St. Pierre enjoys meeting children and youth interested in pursuing law enforcement as a career.

“The children love it, especially those wanting to be police officers as they can try on the vests, get in the patrol cars, turn on the lights,” he said. “We cherish that for all of our officers, including myself. That gives us great joy, smiling faces and just overall excitement.”

St. Pierre said those moments help provide great relief to his colleagues, especially those that often respond to distrustful calls or emergencies.

“We may be on the calls that are very hard and being able to interact in such a positive environment, it’s a good break away from that and it does the heart good,” he said.

Besides law enforcement, a variety of community advocacy groups also provided resources to the public during the event. Chief among those organizations included SafeHouse, Warrior Wellness, Alabaster For Tomorrow and Compact 2020.

The Alabaster Police Department is currently collecting feedback in preparation for next year’s event.