After a one-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Night Out Against Crime returned across the Five Boroughs on Aug. 3, with the goal of bringing cops and the communities they serve closer together.
The annual event takes place on a national level with police departments throughout the United States and Canada, and is intended to strengthen relationships between communities and officers through food, games and crime prevention information.
The event was back in full swing on Tuesday evening throughout parks and other open-air locations. After a year that has seen police and public relations strained, civilians and those in uniform joined together to have some fun.
At the National Night Out in Lower Manhattan’s South Street Seaport, the 1st Precinct commemorated the occasion with a live DJ, cotton candy, popcorn, painting, and other free activities for children at 89 South Street.
Business owners, community groups, members of Transit District 2 and local residents excitedly greeted one another as Captain Thomas P. Smith of the 1st Precinct kicked of the event with a short speech.
“Building a strong community is a shared responsibility and together we can make this happen,” Smith told the crowd.
Smith became the captain of the 1st Precinct in December and shared that he is excited to begin fostering a strong relationship between officers and the neighborhood through monthly community council meetings, quarterly Build the Block meetings, social media platforms, and various programs wherein officers venture into the field and meet with residents.
“We have a great community here at the 1st Precinct. As members of this community, it’s important for us to work together with each other and our elected officials. Priorities with us here at the 1st Precinct is public safety, quality life and building relationships. Being here tonight proves to all of us and to you that we care about our community and together we are going to strengthen this community,” Captain Smith said.
In addition to the revelry, the department also awarded Elizabeth Williams the Civilian Accommodation Award from the Police Commissioner’s Office for her work helping the community council transition after their president, Anthony Notaro passed away from cancer. They also thanked her tireless efforts aiding the Downtown area.
“I’ve been doing this for 12 years and it’s been one of the most meaningful things I’ve ever done,” Williams said, thanking the officers.
A representative from the mayor’s office was also present to provide a proclamation for the Night Out event.
Similar to the Lower Manhattan event, the 13th Precinct held their own affair in Gramercy, hosting their Night Out at the Augustus St. Gaudeus Playground on 20th Street and Second Avenue.
Here, families and community members of all ages were treated to freshly grilled hamburgers and hotdogs. Not only that, on site artists sketched free caricatures for attendees to take home.
While the adults discussed the neighborhood with NYPD officials, the sound of laughter echoed from a bouncy castle filled with elated children. There was even balloon swords and flowers created.
At both locations, and events all around the city, the NYPD offered free books and other gifts for those who choose to spend the night with their local precincts.