By Ted Ryan
Huntington Town joined communities across the nation on Tuesday, Aug. 2, to celebrate the 34th annual National Night Out, an event that promotes police-community partnerships to help make neighborhoods a safer place to live.
“We have forged relationships among law enforcement, government and the community that keeps lines of communication open so when problems arise, we can work together on solutions.”
This is Huntington’s 14th consecutive year celebrating the event, starting in 2002.
Residents flocked to Manor Field Park in Huntington Station, where the Suffolk County Police Department, the Huntington Station Business Improvement District and corporate sponsors Target and 7-Eleven got together to show a sense of unity for the community.
This event is designed to heighten crime and drug prevention awareness and to generate support for participation in local anti-crime efforts.
Vice President of Huntington Station BID Dolores Thompson spoke on why this event is meaningful for the community.
“We have forged relationships among law enforcement, government and the community that keeps lines of communication open so when problems arise, we can work together on solutions,” she said at the event.
Suffolk County police ran a crime scene investigation clinic and had a demonstration of police dogs in action, demonstrated the department’s GPS tracker, let residents try a distracted driving simulator and explore a Humvee.
Police Explorer Tim Beck described what the National Night Out meant to him.
“[It’s] a nationwide law enforcement day which connects the community to the police department to teach both the police department and the community about everything that’s going on, inform the community on what the police are up to … and to let the community tell the police what they feel should be done,” Beck said.
There were multiple nonprofit groups at the event, each distributing brochures and information on how they are helping create a more comfortable community, including Long Island Cares, Huntington Public Library, Fidelis Care, Northwell Health and others.
Carolyn Macata was at the Northwell Health stand and said the medical group was trying to bring fun activities to kids that also helped them learn how to stay healthy.
“One of the things we’re focusing on today is healthy nutrition for the kids, plus we work with controlling asthma, so we have asthma-related coloring books specially geared toward young children, as to help identify their triggers, learn their medications and work with their doctors,” she said.
In light of the recent police shootings in Austin and Dallas this year — among other shootings throughout the country — Supervisor Frank Petrone (D) spoke on how this year’s National Night Out is an opportunity to heal the connection between police and civilians.
“This year — especially at a time when the relationship between police and the community is strained in some places elsewhere in the country — it is gratifying to know that here in Huntington, everybody is working together toward the common goals of reduced crime, increased security and better quality of life,” he said.
Last year, 38.5 million people from 15,728 communities in states, U.S. territories and military bases worldwide participated in this event.
Deputy Inspector Matthew McCormack spoke on what his takeaway was of National Night Out.
“It’s a get-together where you can come out and meet everybody and celebrate a night out against violence,” he said. “[National Night Out] puts a face on the police department, and a face on the community.”