LIMA — The relationship between the public and law enforcement can be summed up in one word: Trust.
The first Tuesday in August is set aside for communities to try and bridge the gap between police and the public and bring back that trust through National Night Out activities.
Events were held in downtown Lima, at the Allen County Fairgrounds and at the parking lot of the Elida Fieldhouse.
“It comes down to trust and transparency. You have a right to know what we’re doing and when we’re doing it and how we’re doing it and as the best as I can, I want to show you that,” said Matt Treglia, Allen County Sheriff. “If we have a community behind us, we can function better. We can work together better and we can solve crimes together.”
Overcoming the negative views of police is important.
“So often we get focused on the people that are saying negative things about law enforcement and this is an opportunity for those of us within law enforcement to be reminded that the naysayers are a small percentage of the population, that those who support law enforcement, those that believe in us and support us in our mission and actually work with us in our mission, is by far the greater percentage of people within our community,” said Kevin Martin, Lima Police Chief.
According to its webpage, National Night Out began in 1984 and initially involved 2.5 million neighbors across 400 communities in 23 states. They estimate that it now involves 38 million neighbors across 16,000 communities across all 50 states. But, is National Night Out still relevant?
“I think it’s very relevant,” said Martin. “As we have seen, even things like what happened this past weekend in El Paso, Texas, and then much closer to home in Dayton, Ohio, it’s more important than ever that the community and the police work and come together to figure out the solutions to the problems that we see in society, especially those that lead to violent crime.”
“I think it’s a great opportunity for the citizens of Allen County to come out and meet the officers of Allen County and hang out with them and speak with them and understand what we’re trying to do.”
Out at the Allen County Fairgrounds, the ACSO put on a display of force, showing off their S.W.A.T. team, Bomb Squad, K-9 team, Mounted Posse and Dive Team.
Also on display was the Fallen Heroes semi from Louisiana. That display honors law officers that were killed in the line of duty.
“This is only the second year since I’ve been in office as sheriff that we’ve had (National Night Out). I think we’re actually gaining momentum on this and I think it just shows by the number of people we have coming out to the events and running in the 5ks and coming out and wanting to meet the officers and the different specialty teams that we have,” said Treglia.
In downtown Lima, police and LACNIP organized family-friendly activities with demonstrations by police, inflatables for the kids, live entertainment and food.
“(National Night Out) helps to highlight partnerships within the community because a police department cannot be successful without successful partnerships and that includes various organizations throughout the community but it also includes the individuals that live and work and visit within the community and so National Night Out is just a way to not only further build those relationships but to help highlight them and remind people that we’re all in this together and that if we work together we can send a very loud, clear message that crime is not going to be tolerated in our community and I think it will only help to make lives better for everyone,” said Martin.
In Elida, the Elida Area Community Center hosted activities at the Elida Fieldhouse promoting a family-friendly night complete with bounce houses for the kids, free food, and a chance to meet with American Township Firefighters and Elida Village Police.
“This is a great way for the community to come out, get together in a nice, safe, stress-free environment where they can get to know their neighbors that they do not get to see on a regular basis, they can get to know them and hopefully develop friendships and good neighborhood rapport with each other,” said Dale Metzger, Elida police chief.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.