National Night Out gives community opportunity to get to know law enforcement outside of emergency situations

Published 9:00 am Thursday, October 6, 2022

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On Tuesday, in an evening filled with fun, laughter and comradery, the LaGrange Police Department and Troup County Sheriff’s Office hosted the 37th annual National Night Out at the Immanuel Ministries and Worship Center parking lot.

Chief Lou Dekmar of the LaGrange Police Department said previously NNO had been hosted in the large parking lot by Planet Fitness and had some traffic control issues. Being in the more secluded parking lot of Immanuel Ministries and Worship Center helped with prior traffic issues.

“We have wonderful participation from a variety of public safety services and also the involvement of various communities, including our faith community that is sponsoring the venue for us,” Dekmar said.

National Night Out (NNO) is a nationwide community initiative based on promoting partnerships between police officers and their local communities.

Each year, law enforcement agencies across the country host community events to foster positive relationships between members of the community and the police.

“It’s a great community event that allows the community as well as children to see public safety in an informal environment,” Troup County Fire Department Deputy Chief Zac Steele said. “They’re so used to seeing us respond with lights and sirens on or seeing us serious and engaged in our task at hand. This allows us to interact with them and let him say that you know, we’re human beings too.”

Steele said he is glad to do stuff like NNO because it allows them to interact with the community and show a human side to the TCFD.

Tuesday night’s event marked the fourth NNO celebration held in LaGrange. Typically, most law enforcement agencies hold their NNO in August, but due to being in the south and dealing with high summer temperatures, many agencies like the ones in LaGrange host their annual event on the first Tuesday in October.

NNO originally began as coordinated community watch events in 23 states but quickly transformed into neighborhood block parties, cookouts and large community events with public safety demonstrations.

The night’s big event was seeing the Air Evac Lifeteam 77 fly in from the skies. Upon landing, the team gave tours of the helicopter and taught onlookers how the helicopter works and what they do as aircraft operators. 

Karma Dune, 7, said NNO was really cool and that she liked getting to see the fire truck with her family.

“I think the helicopter was really cool,” Sarah Tyson, 13, said. “It was scary at first, but I really liked it and the free pizza too.”

There were giveaways consisting of free Chick-fil-A and $50 gift cards from Kroger. Among the giveaways were games for kids, interactive activities and music for all to enjoy.

Also attending this year’s event were Troup County 911, The Jungle Bus, Safe Families for Children West Georgia, Twin Cedars and more.

“I think the turnout this year was great,” said Sgt. Stewart Smith, with the Troup County Sheriff’s Office. “It was good to get the chance for all of us to come together with the community and it not be an emergency situation. They can see us as normal people — it was a great night with the community coming out.”