AND PATRICK ROCCHIO
America’s National Night Out was another success as thousands of residents came out to learn more about what their local precincts can do for their communities.
The Night Out, a national event intended on bringing communities together with their precincts to heighten drug and crime prevention awareness, celebrated its 28th year with the NYPD in the Bronx on Tuesday, August 2.
The 49th Precinct, along with local community organizations and associations, set-up information tables on the Pelham Parkway North lawn between Barnes and Wallace avenues. Approximately 4,000 showed up during the three-hour program, and Community Affairs officer Victor DiPierro was not at all surprised.
“I’ve been a part of this with the precinct for 12 years, and every year, I know for sure it gets bigger and better,” DiPierro said. “Around this time of year, everybody knows the event is coming up. It’s certainly a great opportunity to see everything that’s offered in the community. Throughout the night, a wealth of useful information can be learned.”
Free snacks and beverages were offered for guests, games were available for kids, and musical entertainment, led by the sounds of Just Nuts, filled the summer air.
“I think when we first started almost 30 years ago, all we had was 35 people show up,” said Joe Thompson, president of the 49th Precinct Community Council. “What we want is a sense of unity with all of our communities within the precinct. At this point, it’s pretty self sustaining, and it’s great to see the amount of people who participate.”
National Night Out was also a big hit for the 45th Precinct, which held its annual event in Co-op City’s Section 5 greenway.
Tables from community organizations in Co-op City, as well as non-profits lined the walkway, before 45th Precinct Community Council president Robert Bieder welcomed New York City Correction Commissioner Dora Schrirom to present a proclamation with greetings from Mayor Bloomberg.
“It is great to see all of the people in the community join together for National Night Out,” Bieder said. “It strengthens the community when you get to meet your neighbors.”
Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, who sponsored a showing of Iron Man 2 later that evening, also greeted the crowd. The commanding officer of the 45th precinct, Captain Russell Green, said that the event helped bring the police and the community closer together in fighting crime.
“This is a public display of the police and community in a high visibility atmosphere to say together that we are not going to tolerate crime,” Green said.
Community Board 10 chairman John Marano believes events like these help the public to better understand that reporting every crime, no matter how small, makes a difference in making a community a safe place live.
It also helps to break down barriers that may exist between the police and community, he said.
“Sometimes people are uncomfortable speaking to cops, National Night Out shows the public another side of the police, and opens a dialogue,” Marano said.