Meeting the neighbors

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Tuesday night students, parents and law enforcement officers across the nation gave drugs and crime their official going away party.

It was the 23rd annual National Night Out and Demopolis officials were sure to play their role in the nationwide crime-prevention event.

Instead of holding the event at the Demopolis City Landing like last year, DPD decided to move their party to the U.S. Jones playground.

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“We moved it over here because most of the kids can walk from their homes and we wanted to be closer to the community,” event organizer Sgt. Tim Williams said, “I am thrilled by the turnout. This is the best we’ve ever had.”

“We thought if we came this way the turnout would be netter than last year’s,” DPD chief Jeff Manuel said. “I am glad we moved because the turnout is so much better than last year, but last year the weather could’ve been a factor.”

Inflatable slides and jumping gyms, were accented with the smells of deep-fried Foster Farms corndogs and chicken nuggets, cotton candy and popcorn.

“”The whole idea is for the kids to come out and meet the officers therefore we wanted to do something so the kids would want to come. It’s also a way for the officers to meet parents in the area. I want to showcase the equipment and let everyone know we are not bad people,” Manuel said. “So we have all this to bribe the kids in a way. You get the kids to want to come out and you get the parents too. We want to put the word out that together we can all fight crime.”

Although officers from the DPD are the main participants in National Night Out, the Demopolis Fire Department, the local Corps of Engineers, Foster Farms and the ambulance also made special appearances.

“They have been with us every year we’ve done the Night Out,” Williams said. “We couldn’t do it without them. There’s a lot of work involved, but when everyone comes together, I’m thrilled.”

“We always want to come out and support the community as much as we possibly can,” said Foster Farms representative Walton Roberts. “We especially try to support the activities where children are involved.”

Children were able to sit behind the wheels of both a police vehicles and a firetruck. They also had the opportunity to walk through the back of an ambulance, filled with the stretcher and emergency supplies.

However, attendees didn’t just have the opportunity to take home memories of their night with city officials, they took home goodies.

Everything from keychains and stickers to firemen hats and useful information was passed out at the one-day event.

“Everybody has a message. The firemen want to teach fire prevention, we want to push law enforcement and the Corps of Engineers want to teach water safety,” Manuel said. “By handing stuff out, the kids will take it home and eventually the parents will look at what we got.”