When police officers show up to a party, it’s usually not something the host had in mind. But on National Night Out, police attendance is the whole purpose.
On Tuesday, Aug. 1, multiple homeowners throughout the city will host National Night Out parties. It’s an event organized to bring residents and police officers together with the hope that the two groups will communicate more and work more closely together to help prevent crime and improve neighborhood safety. Nationally, it’s the 34th Annual National Night Out Crime and Drug Prevention.
WMPD Chief Paul O’Connell said the “gatherings are all in the name of taking care of each other like a village.”
National Night returns as the WMPD recently-announced a 3 percent drop in crime from 2015 to 2016. It’s a drop O’Connell credited to his department and its relationship with the community.
“In 2015 our crime rate reached a 20-year low. This year we are pleased to report another decrease, which is undeniably due to the brave work of the Wilton Manors Police Department in partnership with our community of residents, visitors and business owners who remain committed to keeping the city as safe as possible for all to enjoy.”
So far, the Wilton Manors Police Department [WMPD] has announced three National Night Out parties on its website – wiltonmanors.com/305/national-night-out. One of the parties will be hosted by the Kiwanis Club of Wilton Manors from 6 to 8 p.m. at its clubhouse, 2749 NE 14 Ave.
Kiwanis members will be serving hot dogs, hamburgers, and refreshments to guests, and invite anyone who comes to bring a dish if they choose. “Well, we’ve done it for a few years now,” said Joe Gallegos, president-elect of Kiwanis and former Wilton Manors city manager.
Gallegos said that Kiwanis already supports the police department by providing a plaque and gift card to the officer of the quarter and officer of the year.
“We’re a community-based organization that focuses on children and neighborhood safety. It’s a natural for us [to host] because we do have a clubhouse.”
He added that there will be plenty of tables and chairs at Kiwanis for police officers and residents to sit next to each other and interact. “Which is really one of the key elements of National Night Out.”
Resident Betty Winslow is one of the organizers and biggest advocate of National Night Out.
“After volunteering 14 years with the Wilton Manors Police Department, one of my favorite things to do is helping with National Night Out. I have met so many wonderful people who are committed to their community by hosting a NNO block party. If there is one in your neighborhood, stop by, bring your lawn chair, a dish to share, meet new people and meet the member of the WMPD. Let the bad guys know we do not want them in our neighborhood. I look forward to meeting you on Aug. 1.