COLONIE — The annual Community Night Out is a chance for residents and police to get to know each other a little better, and in a setting not precipitated by a call to 911.
And it gives the police a chance to show off the tools of the trade — from the latest armored vehicle to the time honored K9 unit.
“Most of the time when we meet the public it during a traumatic or stressful situation but this is a way is so much better,” said Chief Jonathan Teale at the Crossings on Friday, June 21 while wearing shorts and a t-shirt rather than his blue uniform. “It gives us a chance to get to the know the public and the public to get to know. We just want to let them know we are there for them and if they have an issue or a concern to give us a call and we will work it out.”
The centerpiece of equipment is the armored vehicle the town purchased this spring for $252,000, with 60 percent coming from drug forfeiture money. It can stop a .50 caliber bullet, has a battering ram on the front that can extend about 12 feet, blinding LED lights to help gain access to a building or to just illuminate a crime scene, gun ports on both sides a hatch on top that spins.
It is designed for tactical teams, but can be used for high water rescue and for EMS should they need to get to a wounded person during a dangerous and/or active crime scene.
Just a few days ago, Teale said, an emotionally disturbed person had barricaded himself in a home and surrendered shortly after the black, intimidating armored vehicle pulled up to the scene.
“People know we mean business when this vehicle rolls in,” Teale said of the vehicle that is named No. 301 after Investigator Ed Frank, who died while still on active duty some 10 years ago. “We have used it a dozen times in assisting other agencies and for callouts in our own town and we are still finding uses for it.”
The 20,000-pound vehicle is made by Lenco, a company out of Pittsfield Massachusetts, and other local agencies who have one are the State Police, the FBI and the City of Albany Police Department also recently purchased one.
The department is also looking to purchase less lethal devices like a pepper gun that projects a pepper powder or spray used to disarm or disable a person. And a boa wrap — which is right out of a Batman movie — that projects a Kevlar cord with two weighted ends and if used properly, in the right situation, the weights spin around a person with the string in tow, harmlessly wrapping up the subject who is then easily detained.
“This is just a lot of fun for the kids to see this stuff up close and I’ve always said we have the best police department tin the county,” said lifelong Colonie resident Pete Gannon. “This is a community based force. The cops all live in the neighborhoods and we don’t have the challenge you see in other communities because they all live on our streets.”
This year, rather than have smaller events at different pocket parks throughout the town, the department opted to have one central event at The Crossings. Elected officials and police officers manned the grill and handed out slices of pizza and beverages.
This year, children in attendance were given a punch list, per se, and had to visit each officer as well as do calisthenics with the officers to qualify for a prize.
“We are really lucky. Our partnership with the community is outstanding. Public safety relies on that team, that partnership between the community and the police department,” said Lt. Harry Rosenzweig, an organizer of the event. “For us it’s a celebration that already exists.”