On Tuesday night, hundreds of families enjoyed their evening at the Wheeling Park Ice Rink for the National Night Out, an event that takes place all across the country on the first Tuesday of August.
The event is a great opportunity for police officers and first responders to meet with people in the community, both young and old. Some kids even dressed up in their own police uniforms for the opportunity to meet the officers.
The hands-on event allows kids and their parents to meet and talk to police and first responders.
“There is a lot of negative things that people see on the Internet, through social media. This allows young people and adults as well, to interact on a one-on-one basis with law enforcement to see that we’re human just like everyone else and to foster those relationships,” said Lieutenant Phil Redford with the Wheeling Police Department.
Kids got to walk around to different tables and get things like police badge stickers, safety coloring books, pencils and bracelets that bring awareness to the topic of bullying.
Ohio County Sheriff Pat Butler has a large hand in putting the event together in the Wheeling Community. He said it provides good camaraderie. “The kids get to know the police officers, you know, we’re not all bad. They know they can trust us and who to call, or who to go to in case of an emergency,” Butler said.
While many kids came to see the K9 officer demonstrations, practice bike safety, and sit on the police motorcycles, one young man was there for a different reason. Jacob Plants met Sergeant Miller with the Wheeling Police Department when he was in fifth grade, and has been volunteering some time with him ever since.
Plants said he admires officers because they are good people and they’re always ready to jump into action. “Well I’ve been wanting it because I like helping out people so I wanted to help out the community and the city, so I’ve been doing that,” Plants said. “My dream is to be a police officer because I like to stop crimes and stuff.”
The Boy Scouts, United States Attorney’s Office and representatives from MADD were also on-hand for the event.