MINOOKA – On Tuesday night at Lions Park in Minooka, the community and its police force came together to help take a bite out of crime.
The summer event wasn’t able to take place last year, but this year it was back in full force, welcomed by residents of the village.
“This is something we’ve been doing, I’ve always done it with my daughter,” Candace Walston of Minooka said. “I missed it last year when they didn’t have it, so I was happy to see it back and I brought my son with now.”
Village President Pat Brennan said it’s a wonderful event that he is happy to see the police sponsor.
“The police do a wonderful job,” he said. “It gets the community involved with the police more,” he said. “It helps to get the kids in the community used to the police in a positive situation.”
Minooka Police Chief Justin Meyer said bringing the community and police together is exactly what the national event promotes.
“What I like about the event is it gives the residents the opportunity to work together with the police towards a safe community,” he said. “I’m thrilled with the number of people who came out, as well as the support we received from the businesses and volunteers.”
Residents like Matt and Kori Walick brought their children, Wyatt and Riley, to the event to visit and get to know the police officers in their community.
Wyatt especially liked the newest police officer, Ruger, the department’s drug sniffing dog.
Wyatt, along with others, were greeted by Ruger with wet kisses and hugs, as he found a place to sit in their laps.
Catie Byrne, 15-years-old from Minooka came to Lion’s Park with her mom and her mom’s friend and quickly made a friends with Ruger. His welcoming nature showed the kids of the community that police can be friendly, even police dogs.
The community was treated to the free event, which included a bouncy house, touch a truck and a train events.
Under the pavilion residents were offered free snacks including popcorn, sno-cones and hot dogs while listening to the free DJ.
Austin Etheridge, his sister, Cheyenne and friend, Amber Arteese waited in line with funny props for their turn in the photo booth that sent residents home with a snapshot from the night to remind them the community can help stop crime when working together.
According to the National Night Out website, natw.org, “America’s Night Out Against Crime” was introduced in 1984 as an effort to promote involvement in crime prevention activities, police-community partnerships, neighborhood camaraderie and to send a message to criminals letting them know neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.
Minooka residents were asked to join forces and lock their doors, turn on outside lights, and spend the evening outside with neighbors and police to celebrate the National Night Out campaign at Lion’s Park.
“It’s time for Minooka residents to band together and promote awareness, safety and neighborhood unity,” community police officer Denis Tatgenhorst said, in a news release prior to the event.