DOBSON — Local residents will have the opportunity Tuesday to participate in a national celebration promoting good relationships between the community and the police.
The Dobson Police Department’s second-annual National Night Out will be held Tuesday, August 2, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Dobson Square Park, 110 S. Crutchfield St. The Pilot Mountain Police Department will be hosting its own Night Out event in downtown Pilot at that same time.
“It’s a good event to bring the general public together with police officers and emergency personnel, to give them an opportunity to speak to one another and establish a rapport,” said Dobson Police Chief Shawn Myers.
National Night Out has been celebrated throughout the country for more than 30 years.
Thousands of participating communities from all 50 states, territories, military bases and Canadian cities celebrate the first Tuesday of August.
“We decided to join national movement to bring the community together, to show our support of local law enforcement as well as other emergency personnel, to make sure they know how much we appreciate their efforts,” Smith said.
Representatives from a slew of local law enforcement and emergency agencies will be present at the night out. They include the Surry County Sheriff’s Office, the Elkin Police Department, N.C. Highway Patrol, Surry County Community Corrections, Dobson Rescue Squad, Skull Camp Fire Department, Dobson Fire Department, CC Camp Fire Department, Surry County Emergency Medical Services, Surry Central Fire Department, Surry County Central Communications, Wake Forest Baptist Air Care.
Hot dogs, chips and drinks will be provided at no cost to those who attend, with music, games, inflatables for the kids, and a crash and rescue demonstration for entertainment.
The splash park will also be operational during the event.
“Probably the most exciting thing is the airplane crash and rescue demonstration,” Smith said.
Those who attend the event can view the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center AirCare helicopter land in the field and observe emergency workers perform a rescue mission on a simulated wrecked airplane.
“Seeing the helicopter land is pretty awesome,” Smith said. “While our prime focus is to bring people a sense of togetherness, we also hope to expose them to some of the unique responsibilities that first responders deal with on a daily basis.”
Myers said negative media portrayals of law enforcement don’t tell the whole story.
“We’re actually here to help people,” he said. “We are human beings just like they are.”
Dobson had formerly participated but stopped several years ago when Pilot Mountain established an event.
Last year, requests from citizens and businesses inspired organizers to bring the night out back to Dobson.
It went well – about 1,500 people showed up.
“It was huge,” Smith recalled. “The line for hot dogs never dwindled.”
Organizers made a slight change for the upcoming event.
Thanks to volunteers from several churches and the Feeding the Hungry organization, officers this year will be free to mingle and interact with people who they may only cross paths with when someone is in trouble or sick.
“It’s not only writing tickets,” Smith said. “They spend the majority of their time keeping the community safe. These guys are putting their lives on the line. We all hope we never need the police, but we’re glad they’re there when we need them.”
The town officials voiced appreciation for what they consider is already a positive relationship.
“I think we have very good rapport with the general public,” Myers said.
“I think the national news media does not portray the way it is in Surry County and Dobson. “We’ve got very good backing and support within the community.”
Smith made a similar statement.
“I think our department has an outstanding relationship in the community, I’m proud to say,” he said. “That’s based on my observations seeing them interact and the number of complaints that hits my desk are few and far between.”
But that’s no reason to get complacent, especially in light of recent high profile conflicts between police and citizens.
“We can always build on that,” Smith said of the positive relationship between law enforcement and residents, which he said is fostered through numerous outreach efforts.
“Our goal is to keep that level of trust as high as we can keep it.”
Reach Terri Flagg at 415-4734.