ROCKINGHAM — “National Night Out”, an event put on jointly by the Rockingham Police and Fire Department, proved to be a major success Tuesday night.
The annual “National Night Out” (NNO) program which is held on the first Tuesday each August, has been extraordinarily successful in promoting involvement in crime and drug prevention activities, strengthening police-community relations, and encouraging neighborhood camaraderie as part of the fight for safer streets. Since 1984, “National Night Out—America’s Night Out Against Crime” has grown to involve over 37 million people from more than 15,000 communities.
Rockingham is one of the communities that has held this event repetitively over the years. Police Chief W.D. Kelly said the event is an important part of the Police Department’s effort to reach out to the community.
“We are excited for this event every year,” Chief Kelly said. “It gives us the opportunity to come out and hang out with people in the community…to come together and spend the evening without crime. The kids get to run around, the events are free, and it gives them the chance to talk to officers while not on duty.”
This year’s event featured a dunking booth where attendees could throw a ball and hit a target to “dunk” their hometown police officers into a large bowl of cool water, large inflatable “bouncy houses” for the kids to play, a rock-climbing wall, a face painting booth, Twisted Treats, and other fun attractions.
One of the biggest attractions was the graduation of the Junior Police and Fire Academy students who participated in this year’s class. The Richmond Observer covered the Academy back on July 14 in an article recognizing the large number of students attending this year’s Academy, and those students were formally recognized last night at “National Night Out”.
“The last eleven years it has been the Junior Police Academy,” said Chief Kelly. “This year we incorporated the Fire Department after talking to Chief (Harold) Isler and he was excited to be a part of this. So this year we changed it to the Junior Police and Fire Academy, and we had the most cadets sign up. Sixty-two cadets signed up in total, and fifty-six actually showed up, so it’s our biggest year ever since we have been doing this around 2005.”