Police departments across the U.S. all took to the street tonight. But not to fight crime — but build relationships with the communities they serve. The Rockford Police Department was one of them.
Hundreds of residents came out to celebrate National Night Out with local law enforcement at Levings Lake. The annual event sets out to promote police-community partnerships and neighborhood unity.
“It’s the city’s time and the residents’ time to come out,” said Rockford Police Chief Dan O’Shea. “[It’s time to] meet your neighbors, and say ‘We own this city as a community and we’re not going to put up with crime.”
Rockford resident Sally Tidwell says Tuesday’s event gives police a chance to be seen in a different light.
“We’re always hearing about the bad things that’s going on around town,” said Tidwell. “This is a chance to see the good things the police department is putting on for the residents.”
Rockford Police Deputy Assistant Chief Andre Brass says National Night Out is an opportunity to talk to the residents they don’t usually in a pressure-free setting.
“[We can] have conversations that don’t have any pretext, any kind of connotations,” said Brass. “Just getting together and having a conversation, talking to people about what’s going on in their neighborhoods.”
There was plenty of food, prizes and fun for the entire family. Rockford resident Jeanette Lighthart says despite the spotty weather — she’s glad her family came out.
“It’s exciting!,” said Lighthart. “It’s something a family should go through and experience together.”
O’Shea says that’s what it’s about — having the entire family be involved.
“Now you’re kids are involved,” explained O”Shea. “That’s where the investment comes from because our relationships with kids are the future of Rockford.”
This year marks the 35th anniversary of National Night Out.