It was a beautiful evening in the Little Apple as dozens of families gathered at City Park for the annual National Night Out event.
Neighborhoods throughout Riley County were invited out Tuesday evening to join over 38 million neighbors across 16 thousand communities from all 50 states, U.S. territories and military bases worldwide, all in the name of building a strong police-community partnership. Riley County Police Department Public Information Officer, Aaron Wintermote, spoke more about the event.
“Its really just about interaction with our community. People can come out and see things they don’t normally see everyday out on the streets.”
Wintermote said most local first responder groups were represented, including several units that many community members may not even know exist.
“We have the Manhattan Fire Department, Riley County Fire Department, Riley County EMS, Riley County Emergency Management, and then K-State Police Department are all out here. Then we have our tactical team, and our bomb team out here. We also have our K-9 units, so a lot of specialty teams like that.”
Wintermote added that the event is incredibly important for relationship building between the community and RCPD, and as an added bonus, free food and Starbucks.
“A lot of times the community sees us when we are responding to an emergency, so it’s good to be able to have events like this where people can come and see us and talk to us when we’re not working. So when we’re not responding to an emergency and in that work mode. Being in this environment allows us to talk to people and interact with people how we would normally.”
Manhattan Fire Marshall, Jake Powell, echoed those comments, and said anytime you can build trust and rapport it helps the entire first responder group.
“Anytime we can get out in the public and talk to people on a normal conversation basis, not when they are calling us for a need, but when we can get out and engage and have that open conversation, it’s immensely valuable to build that trust.”
Powell said National Night Out gives them the opportunity to not only speak with the adults, but also interact with the kids. He said this year, the National Night Out event was during National Fire Safety Week, so they took advantage of that.
“We are out here to educate people on how to stay safe in their homes. The theme this year is ‘Learn the Sounds of Fire Safety’, so it is encouraging people to know what smoke alarms sound like when they are activated and to know what to do if one is chirping. Knowing what to do and how to act.”
Powell said he enjoyed getting out to talk to the public, and he encourages everyone to learn even more about the MFD at their open house on Sunday, October 10.
National Night Out is a nationally sponsored event that began in 1984 as a way to inform the public about various police programs. The Riley County Police Department brought the event back to Manhattan in 2019 in hopes to hold more community policing events.