Clear calendar for community-wide celebration

Dunk an officer, play in fire hoses

The ever popular police officer dunk tank will be present at this year’s National Night Out event August 7 in downtown Rockford.

National Night out is one celebration you don’t want to miss, coming right up on Tuesday, August 7 around the country from 6 to 8 p.m. Locally, planning is nearly complete for this year’s event, which takes place on Maple and Main streets in the parking lot where Northland Pontiac once stood (west of the Rockford Fire Department garage).

All local law enforcement, each of Rockford’s eight Neighborhood Watch organizations, Rockford Ambulance and the representatives from the Helen DeVos Safe Kids will all be present.

Nationally the event was started to encourage neighbors turn on their outside lights and go out to celebrate crime prevention.

In Rockford, National Night Out is one of a half dozen community policing programs and one of the most inclusive events in proactive crime prevention. Those who come downtown for activities will have the chance to talk with Rockford police officers, firefighters, Kent County sheriff’s deputies, and troopers from the Michigan State Police, including our own Rockford-based K-9 officer with his German shepherd.

According to organizer Officer Aaron Sawyer, National Night Out (NNO) is one of a flurry of summer community events in which his department participates. NNO comes on the heels of the Rockford Area Triathlon and the D.A.R.E. golf outing. “It’s a lot of fun,” Sawyer said.

Each of the Neighborhood Watch associations will have a table under the big tent and will have either giveaways, games or information about crime prevention. The Rockford Fire Department will have a fire truck on the site, spraying mist for kids—or adults—to run or walk through to cool down. Members of the Rockford Firefighters Association will be manning the grill and handing out hotdogs, pop and chips free of charge.

Always a popular offering, the police dunk tank will be set up and children are invited to throw a softball and dunk a Rockford police officer.

Hundreds of your neighbors and city officials will be at this celebration as communities across our nation celebrate crime prevention together. An added benefit is the chance to mingle with the men and women who work hard to keep you safe all year around.

Sawyer said good relations with law enforcement is a key element in community safety and also said that police are always happier to respond to a call that turns out to be a false alarm than to not be called.

“Sometimes people think they are bothering us, but that isn’t the case,” he said. “We’d rather check a million times and have it be nothing.”

Watch next week’s Squire for a reminder to join the nation and your local law enforcement in celebrating crime prevention.

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