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National Night Out 2023

National Night Out 2023

By Nicole Davis

On the first Tuesday of August each year, communities come together with police departments across the nation to spend time with one another and take a stance against crime.

The National Night Out Website, natw.org, states that “together, we are making communities safer, more caring places to live.” When community and police develop partnerships and work together, it makes a big difference in the crime rate and safety of a community.

“A good example of that is the Bean Creek Neighborhood,” said Andrew Sheler, community relations officer with Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department’s Southeast District. “Last year they saw double digits in crime reduction in their neighborhood. As much as we would like to take credit for it, they were good listeners in asking how they can help us reduce crime, they have good leadership and heavy involvement with their neighborhood. It’s made a tremendous difference.”

Police departments across the Southside state seeing a growing popularity in National Night Out events locally. Here, learn about what each department it doing to celebrate:

Beech Grove Police Department

Beech Grove Police Department will celebrate National Night Out from 6 to 8 p.m. at Don Challis Park, 1100 S. 9th Ave., Beech Grove. Brozinni Pizzeria will be on site with pizza and Papa Curl will have ice cream. Beech Grove Comprehensive Drug-Free Coalition will be on site along with other community organizations/leaders. There will be a bounce house and face painting for kids, a live DJ and more. At least 20 officers will in attendance to celebrate the evening with the community.

Beech Grove celebrates National Night Out in 2022. (Photo courtesy of Beech Grove Police Department)

“Each year it gets bigger and better,” said Beech Grove Police Officer Josh Hartman. “I really appreciate the interaction among different people, seeing the kids in our community. They’ll come up to you (after getting their face painted) and say ‘look at my face, what animal am I?’ It just makes you happy.”

After all, the evening it about enjoyment, getting to know the officers in a relaxed atmosphere.

“We can joke, we can go out there and play tag with you just like we were a kid,” Hartman said. “We’re just here to protect, have fun and show you what the police are like in the community.”

Greenwood Police Department

The Greenwood Police Department will celebrate National Night Out from 5 to 7 p.m. at Amphitheater Park, 186 Surina Way. This year, the Army National Guard will sponsor a climbing wall and inflatable obstacle course. There will also be a giant inflatable slide. Guest appearances will be made by local sports team mascots such as Nitro from Indy Fuel and Rowdy from the Indianapolis Indians. The Humane Society of Johnson County will bring along some animals. There will be face painting, hand-drawn caricatures, balloon artists, a temporary tattoo artist, live music by Exit 99, a raffle and free food. Local agencies and businesses will have booths, handing out goodies. An estimated 1,300 people will visit during the event.

“It’s nonstop, a high-intensity two hours,” said Greenwood Police Officer Jason Grable. “We rely heavily on our local businesses and they have been amazing. I’ve been blown away at how many phone calls I’ve received from local businesses wanting to get involved.”

Greenwood Police Department celebrates National Night Out in 2022. (Photo courtesy of the Greenwood Police Department)

Greenwood Police will have a K-9 demonstration from its own K-9 unit and the Greenwood Swat team will have their own booth so children can explore some of its equipment.

“Law enforcement men and women tend to be pretty private,” Grable said. “This is one opportunity where we can actually enjoy each other’s company, get to know our community and relax in a neutral atmosphere. The fact that this is national and occurs all the way across the country on one night, it’s perfect.”

For up-to-date information, visit the department’s Facebook page, facebook.com/GreenwoodPoliceDepartment. Grable said they will share additional information as the event draws ear.

IMPD Southeast

Every National Night Out, officers from Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department’s Southeast District visit events hosted by local neighborhoods across their district. Officers, command staff and district supervisors will visit more than 20 neighborhoods which are hosting an event in honor of National Night Out this year.

“Since we had that time off with Covid and it started back up again, there’s a lot more support within the last year,” Sheler said. “As the years have progressed, there always seems to be a couple neighborhoods that try and go above and beyond: Bean Creek neighborhood, Garfield Park neighborhood, McFarland Farms all have fairly large events. The Bates Hendricks neighborhood usually has a decent turnout as well.”

McFarland Farms residents host a stuffed animal drive during National Night Out, which they will do again this year. The donations are given to IMPD to hand out to children who are involved in traumatic situations. McFarland Farms residents and officers are pictured here in 2022. (Photo courtesy of IMPD Southeast)

Officers can be spotted playing a game of basketball, throwing around a football, enjoying some food and snacks, and generally getting to know residents of the community in which they serve.

“They’re very welcoming,” Sheler said. “For me personally, I enjoy going to meet the neighbors and have a positive interaction with the youth. When you’re taking daily runs, that’s where we’re not seeing the best side of people at times. I enjoy when we get to go into environments like this where we are working toward the same goal of reducing crime in the neighborhoods and building stronger police and community partnerships.”

Southport Police Department

The Southport Police Department will celebrate its National Night Out event from 5:30 to 9 p.m. at Southport Park, 6901 Derbyshire Road. They will have bounce houses, games like corn hole, Jenga and basketball, a scavenger hunt with prizes for the children, door prizes and 40 different food vendors which will give away food. Organizations such as the National Guard will have informational booths. The Southport Masons will conduct DNA swabs and recordings for parents to keep in case their child is lost. This information can help the police locate the child faster.

“It’s a great time for the police and the community to interact in a positive way and its our way for thanking them for their support,” said Southport Police Chief Thomas Vaughn. “Especially this year with losing three officers in our state in two weeks, its a good way for us to come together, grieve together and talk. Its a good way to strength the bond we already have.”

Children will have the opportunity to sit in a police car during National Night Out. (Photo courtesy of Southport Police Department)

The scavenger hunt is a good way for children to not only meet and interact with the officers, but other city officials as well. They’ll be asked to find the mayor, treasurer, the police department’s mascot and other officials, allowing them to get to know everybody who works in the city they live in.

Throughout the night, Vaughn said they’ve seen 1,500 to 2,000 people in the park, interacting with the officers.

National Night Out at a Glance

When: Aug. 1

Beech Grove Police Department

When: 6 – 8 p.m.

Where: Don Challis Park, 1100 S. 9th Ave.

Greenwood Police Department

When: 5 – 7 p.m.

Where: Amphitheater Park, 186 Surina Way

Homecroft Police Department

When: 5:30 – 8 p.m.

Where: 1400 Tulip Drive

IMPD Southeast

When: Evening, times vary

Where: Bean Creek, Garfield Park, McFarland Farms, Laurelwood, Meridian Raymond, LaScala Villas, Coventry Park, Beirman, Fountain Square Alliance, Norwood, South Village and Positive Impact (Morgan and Shelby St.) neighborhoods.

Southport Police Department

When: 5:30 – 9 p.m.

Where: Southport Park, 6901 Derbyshire Road

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