MENANDS — The annual village picnic was postponed last week because of rain, so officials decided to join up with a Community Night sponsored by the Police and Fire departments and it ended up being quite a bash.
There was free hot dogs and hamburgers, like any good picnic. There was also music by the Swing Docs, a magician/juggler, bounce houses, a rock climbing wall, a bike raffle, dunking booth, face painting and other family activities.
And the Menands police officers and fire fighters — as well as town departments and the State Police — were on hand to chat with the residents.
“It gives everyone the opportunity to see us and talk to us. When we are driving in the car on patrol it is kind of hard. We try to stop and interact with the community as much as we can at games and different events but we always have something going on,” said Police Chief Frank Lacosse. “I have most of my guys here tonight and it gives the people an opportunity to chat with them one-on-one like we are doing right now. They can ask us questions and see what we are about and they can see our families here to and maybe see we are people just like them.”
Policing has had a difficult time since George Floyd died at the hands of Minnesota police in May, 2020. Protests, that often turned to riots, were held across the country and cries of “defund the police” were heard at Black Lives Matter rallies in the largest cities to the smallest villages. Then Gov. Andrew Cuomo mandated every municipality with a police department undergo a top to bottom review of policies and procedures and morale at many departments hit all-time lows.
“It’s getting better as of late,” Lacrosse said of public sentiment. “Whatever happens, we still do our jobs. It became a little more difficult for a while but the majority of people understand why we are here, what we do and that they can trust us. We are here to help them, not hurt them.”
Village Mayor Meg Grenier tipped her hat to a host of organizations that pulled the event together after the weather last week forced them to get creative.
“This was supposed to be a community picnic and it still is but we ended up combining the effort with the police and fire and it turned out to be a great idea,” she said while applauding the Police Benevolent Association, the Fire Department, the auxiliary and the Youth and Senior committees. “It’s a great way for the police to show the community, especially the kids, to not be afraid of them and they are here for them if they need help. And, it’s great everyone came out to listen to some music and have some food and be part of the community. It really turned into an awesome night.”
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