ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Communities all over the United States participated in “National Night Out” Tuesday.
It was a day for people to have close, non-crime related interaction with law enforcement in their neighborhoods. People involved with Rockford’s event said that they think the night is important.
“Events like this, and events like all the other events we do throughout the year, are part of that overall community policing strategy,” said Rockford Police Assistant Deputy Chief Mike Dalke.
Dalke said that is the approach the Rockford Police Department is taking for the city, and that is why Tuesday’s “Night Out” was so essential.
“We cannot do our job out on the street if we are in contention with the community,” Dalke said. “We have to have level of trust, a level of communication, and if relationships aren’t built and they’re not there then people aren’t gonna come forward with information and there has to be a give and take.”
The night was full of games and activities for kids, K9 demonstrations, a live band and free food. While all of that sounds fun, the main goal of the gathering was to enhance the relationships between police and the communities they serve.
The Salvation Army of Winnebago County came with the same mission.
“We help people with utilities, rent assistance, food pantry, and something called pathway of hope,” said Major Monty Wandling of The Salvation Army of Winnebago County. “So, people who are trying to break a cycle that they’re in, that they’re stuck them, we’re helping them work their way through.”
Dalke said that establishing camaraderie can help solve crimes and keep neighborhoods safe.
“We’ll knock on someone’s door and ask, ‘hey, did you hear or see anything,'” Dalke said. “And if they did and they hold that back, that’s just holding back justice for someone.”
Wandling wants neighbors to feel secured with The Salvation Army as well.
“Hopefully whenever people see this uniform or the Salvation Army shield, they’ll be like, ‘hey, they’re safe and nice, I know they’ll help me,'” Wandling said. “So just want people to know that we’re here for them.”
The first “National Night Out” was held in 1984.