By Nicole Davis
Across the nation, 16,000 communities will come together to celebrate National Night Out on Aug. 2, a campaign that promotes police and community partnerships. Locally, each Southside police department will observe the day in their own way, all working together to strengthen relationships in an effort to fight crime.
“It’s a very positive event which is definitely something we can all use in this world,” said Andrew Sheler, community relations officer for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Southeast district. “Obviously in today’s world and climate, it’s very important that stuff like this happens so people can put a name to an officer’s face, not just see a uniformed officer driving up in a marked car, to have those interactions and build relationships with the younger folks in the community. … It’s a very relaxed atmosphere for officers and the community, a great way for us to come together and bridge any gaps that may or may not exist, to build long-lasting relationships with each other. We have to have help from the community and these groups to help fight back against crime. That’s the only way we win, is by working together.”
IMPD Southeast will have approximately 35 officers stopping by community events hosted by neighborhoods and neighborhood associations from Fountain Square and Garfield Park to Perry Township. At least half of those officers will be on duty, stopping to talk with community members in between calls.
Sheler said officers will not only chat and answer questions, but will also be spotted playing basketball, playing games like cornhole, showing children the police cars and more.
“Long-lasting relationships are built from it,” Sheler said. “We go back in these neighborhoods and they remember you. I’ve been stopped many times when I’m out with my family – ‘hey, I know you.’ Even in uniform, you’re on a run in that area and they’ll stop and talk to you.”
For the Southport Police Department, National Night Out has taken on a slightly different meaning since the death of Lt. Aaron Allan on July 27, 2017. Lt. Allan enjoyed attending National Night Out events and could be found interacting with attendees and taking his turn volunteering in a dunk tank. In addition to the National Night Out festivities, this year Southport will host a memorial service for Lt. Allan, with bagpipers, patriotic music and the playing of Taps.
“National Night Out has always been like the chief’s party event,” said Southport Police Chief Thomas Vaughn. “It’s always one that I like because the community, businesses and police get together, get to know each other and have a good time. It was always one of Aaron’s favorite events. With this being the fifth anniversary, it just seemed fitting that we honored him and the sacrifice that he gave five years ago.”
How are Southside police departments celebrating on Aug. 2?
Beech Grove Police Department
The Beech Grove Police Department will host an event at Don Challis Park, 1100 S. 9th Ave., from 6 – 8 p.m. There will be food from Brozinni Pizzeria and Papa Curl Ice Cream. The public is invited.
Greenwood Police Department
Join the Greenwood Police Department from 5 – 7 p.m. at Surina Park Amphitheater for a free community event. Enjoy food, live music by Exit 99, face painting, balloon twisting, a caricaturist, glitter tattoos, bounce house, giveaways, special Superhero appearances and more, for free. For more information, visit facebook.com/GreenwoodPoliceDepartment.
The district will kick off its celebrations at noon at Chase Near East Side Legacy Center, 727 N. Oriental St. Then, in between 5 and 9 p.m., officers will attend celebrations hosted by Bean Creek Neighborhood Association, Meridian Raymond Neighborhood Association, LaScala Villas, Bierman Neighbors, Norwood Neighborhood Association, Coventry Park, Garfield Park Neighbors, My Christian Park Neighborhood Association and more. Members of those neighborhoods are welcome to join for block party-style events and meet and greets with the officers.
Southport Police Department
Join the Southport Police Department from 5:30 – 9 p.m. at Southport Park, 6901 Derbyshire Road for a Celebration of Life for Lt. Aaron Allan and National Night Out festivities. This free public event will include a scavenger hunt for kids, bounce houses, food vendors, live music and more. For more information, visit facebook.com/cityofsouthportindianapolicedepartment.