In a show of force against criminals, thousands of Bronxites will rally for National Night Out Against Crime.
Now in its 30th year, the national event comes at a time when crime throughout the Bronx is at a 50-year low.
All twelve Bronx precincts and two Police Service Areas covering public housing will host carnival-like events, spreading crime prevention tips to visitors.
Precinct community council’s, forums between the community and police, have been spreading the word of the national venue, set Tuesday, August 6 at varying hours.
The event at the 49th Precinct in Morris Park runs from 6 p.m.-9 p.m. at Pelham Parkway’s Great Lawn.
It’s a celebratory event of sorts for the Four-Nine, which holds bragging rights as the city’s safest precinct at the mid-year point.
“If it’s half as good as last year,” said Four-Nine Deputy Inspector Lorenzo Johnson, “It’s going to be a good one.”
Arguably the largest NNOAC event in the borough, the venue promises free giveaways, rides, live entertainment and a meet-and-greet with officers from various divisions.
“We have several thousand who come out each year,” said Det. Vic DiPierro of the precinct’s community affairs unit. “I feel it gets a little bit more and a little bit more.” His partner, Officer Jay Sturdivant, compares the event as a way to “bridge the gap” between officers and the community.
In bridging the gap, residents see themselves as part of the NYPD’s extra set of eyes and hears, according to Joe Thompson, head of the 49th Precinct Community Council.
“This is for every organization that wants to show people what’s going on and elevate people’s knowledge,” said Thompson. “They need something to draw them out.”
In the 45th Precinct covering the east Bronx, Bob Bieder, the president of the community council, called NNOAC a great way for the police to mingle with the community in a very positive way.
“It gives police an opportunity, especially with some of the younger people today and a lot of people who are afraid of police, the opportunity to meet and greet,” said Bieder. “Certainly it strengthens the relationships between the community and the general public.”
Bieder gave the lion’s share of the credit for the 45th Precinct’s NNOAC to the Riverbay Corp, which manages Co-op City and is hosting this year’s event at the Section 5 Greenway from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Riverbay ombudsman Joe Boiko and community relations director Michelle Sajous said this year’s NNOAC will include a movie sponsored by Assemblyman Michael Benedetto. Both said that the event gets precinct cops to engage with the community in ways they might not normally in the course of their duties, and meet local groups.
“It is always better to meet people when it is not about business,” said 45th Precinct Captain James McGeown. “This is about having some hotdogs, having children get face-panting or watch the movie. They get more comfortable being around the police and don’t believe the bad stories about the us and maybe get a good impression…and know that we are there to help them.”