Perhaps nowhere else is the spirit of America’s National Night Out Against Crime as strong each year as in the Metropolitan Oval, and this year was no exception.
On Tuesday, August 2, the 43rd Precinct once again hosted the Bronx’s biggest celebration for the annual nationwide event, which promotes harmony between police departments and the communities they serve. Thousands, including Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly showed up at the oval.
“We rely on you. We need you to help make this city safer,” Commissioner Kelly told the crowd. “New York is safer than it has ever been but we can always do more.”
Night Out attendees enjoyed rides and fair games while interacting with police officers and NYPD officials. Deputy Inspector Charles Ortiz, who oversees the 43rd Precinct, said the Night Out, how in its 28th year, has been a big deal for as long as he can remember, and that it is vital in making the community feel comfortable around his officers and vice versa.
“We’re building on it every year,” Ortiz said. “It’s a great day for harmony and it’s something we take very seriously.”
One new face at the Night Out celebration was Bill Long, owner of toy company BronxToys.com. Since founding the company about a year ago, Long has become ubiquitous at street fairs and celebrations throughout the Bronx, giving away his wares to young contest winners. His truck has appeared at over 25 events across the city so far this summer.
Long fit in especially well at the Night Out because all of his toys are emblazoned with the logos of a city agency: NYPD, FDNY, Department of Sanitation or Taxi & Limousine Commission.
“If I can give away toys that promote the Police Department and promote some goodwill, that’s what it’s all about,” Long said.
Long’s has a deep affinity for the police. His father was killed in the line of duty in South Jamaica, Queens over 50 years ago. During Night Out at the Oval, the connection between law enforcement and community was evident, and Auxiliary Officer Hilario Paulino felt it as he strolled the grounds.
“I think it’s effective,” he said. “It’s a way to give back to the community, bring everyone together and make it so that people aren’t afraid of cops.”
Eighteen-year-old Parkchester resident Amber Quiles said the annual Night Out was just part of growing up in the neighborhood.
“It’s always been like this, since I was little,” Quiles said. “My family and friends always come.”