NEWBERRY — Local law enforcement, first responders and members of the community came together Tuesday evening to participate in Newberry’s sixth annual National Night Out.
Gathered at Mollohon Park, they socialized, played gamed and broke bread.
“That shows the partnership that we have with the Newberry community,” said Mayor Foster Senn. “They work together year-round and this is just a special celebration of it.”
Senn said people often perceive law enforcement officials as being serious as they typically are responding to serious situations.
“It’s nice to see them relax tonight, have some fun, play some games and just have a much more casual evening,” he said.
Formerly hosting their own National Night Out, Nance Forest Apartments joined in with the city a few years ago with about 30 of their residents participating this year.
“Our community likes to get involved with things,” said Rhonda Ackerman, Nance Forest. “I think it’s important, especially at this time, for everybody to get together and know that there are good law enforcement officers.”
Police Chief Roy McClurkin said throwing events such as this is part of the “crime prevention plan.”
“The community can get to know us, the community can tell us their issues and we can tell them how we are going to alleviate the problems they’re having,” McClurkin said.
Getting to know each other builds a foundation of trust, which in turn McClurkin believes creates a better partnership where residents are more likely to call law enforcement to alert them of crime.
“I have 30 police officers but if I can get 12,000 citizens to actually be my eyes and ears it would help us tremendously,” he said.
It is because of that partnership that McClurkin said Newberry has been able to avoid virtually all of the growing unrest between communities and law enforcement which has plagued many parts of the country.
“We have a great working relationship, always have had a great working relationship,” he said. “They know that we’re here for them and most of the community knows the officers by name.”
The Washington Post reported 93 unarmed people were fatally shot by law enforcement last year in the United States with fatal attacks on police occurring last month in Dallas and Baton Rouge.
Nance Forest resident Winderlyn Fuller said there are too many guns on the street and the violence in our country needs to stop.
Fuller said National Night Out represents “hope for life whether you’re white, black, whatever color you are — just hope for bringing people together.”
National Night Out was founded in 1984 by the National Association of Town Watch with assistance from the U.S. Department of Justice with over 16,000 communities participating each year.
Reach Carson Lambert at 803-276-0625, ext. 1868, or on Twitter @TheNBOnews.