PERRY — Community Policing, a strategy through which officers focus on building ties in their community, has gained in popularity lately within departments nationwide.
In Perry, officers hope to strengthen ties between themselves and residents by hosting a “National Night Out” from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday under the pavilion next to city hall.
“It’s a chance for the community and the officers to get to really know each other on a personal basis,” Perry Police Chief Kyle Bawks said. “Especially with a community this size, we interact on a regular basis and sometimes it’s not when things are going well for them. This is a relaxed way to interact with the community without any problem solving involved.”
The event is a picnic, according to Bawks. There will be free food from different vendors, as well as different games. The city is expecting upward of 500 people at Tuesday’s event.
There will be exhibits by other area agencies, including Homeland Security and the Perry Fire Department.
“We’re going to be doing an extrication demonstration. It’s going to be a vehicle that we cut open and demonstrate what we would do if someone was trapped during a car accident,”Fire Chief Guy Hubbard said. “This is a great event the whole point of it is to get out and know your neighbors.”
In years past, the fire department performed second-story rescue demonstrations at the event and showcased their ability to put out fires rapidly.
National Night Out has been taking place in Perry since before Bawks joined the Perry Police Department 2001.
The event is not unique to the city. It is a nationwide event that has been happening annually on the first Tuesday in August since the early 1980s.
The first annual National Night Out involved 2.5 million people across 400 communities in 23 states. The event was initially organized by the National Association of Town Watch, which is a group that promotes police-community partnerships.
According to the National Night Out website, “National Night Out is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live. National Night Out enhances the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement while bringing back a true sense of community. Furthermore, it provides a great opportunity to bring police and neighbors together under positive circumstances.”
Bawks said he enjoys the size of Perry and the level of interaction his officers have with the community, businesses, schools or “even just the random guy driving through looking for directions.”
Currently, there are four full-time and two part-time officers on his force.
Bawks said he thinks problem-solving is what draws a lot of people into becoming police officers.
“They like the ability to figure things and apply critical thinking skills to help the people of Perry,” he said.