BETHLEHEM — The town’s police department wants to continue strengthening its relationship with the local community with its National Night Out event on Tuesday, Aug. 6.
Happening from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Elm Avenue Park on 249 Elm Ave. in Delmar, the event joins many other neighborhoods throughout the country in bringing residents together with not only the police force, but also local emergency services. Bethlehem Police Department Commander Adam Hornick said that all the town’s fire departments, for example, have appeared in past National Night Out events and should be returning this year.
Many of the departments’ vehicles, equipment and gear are expected to be on display so residents can see them and sometimes interact with them up close. “We will have displays with personnel to educate people there, and we’ll have the police car available for people to climb in and see the equipment and let people know how it feels inside,” Hornick said, confirming that this is the fourth year the Bethlehem police is participating.
The public can also expect a fun night filled with live music by the Little Jack band, face painting, free make-your-own sundaes donated by Stewart’s, barbecue and games. While Hornick said some police officers will remain in uniform to show the public how it looks like up close, all officers will at least be readily identifiable and manning booths.
“It’s an event to bring the community, the police department and emergency services together and get a better understanding of what everyone does,” Hornick explained, adding that his colleague, Sergeant Mike Whiteley originally came up with the idea. “It would make everyone know that we’re a community and there’s still a philosophy of community policing. Each year, it has expanded and it gets better, and we get more donations and input from the public. It also gets the community to come and go over community concerns with us.”
Speaking of concerns, Hornick acknowledged that the country is undergoing a polarizing time where the public are increasingly more afraid of or do not trust the police much at the national level. “I think that exists in every community and that’s why community events are important. It’s a polarizing but also a changing time,” he said. “We live in a society of social media where as soon as something happens, an incident is on social media before we, the police, know about it. By then, it’s already spread and sometimes we’re not on the scene yet.” While he added that it’s been a “challenging dynamic” where people do not respect authority and can be violent, there has not been an issue in any of the National Night Out events so far.
When asked if he has any favorite memories of National Night Out, Hornick brought up how it feels most rewarding when “actually seeing the faces of kids and when they get in the police car and they see all the sirens and lights. It’s exciting to interact with parents too. A lot of times, people think that when they see the police, there’s a bad thing or a fight happening. But the event is strictly in a positive light and to continue community interactions.”
For more information, visit www.townofbethlehem.org/829/National-Night-Out.