Families enjoyed an activity-filled Saturday night at Abe & Irene Levine Park on Oct. 7 as the Sealy Police Department hosted its annual National Night Out.
The event has been a work in progress in recent years as organizers build upon what works and have changed what doesn’t work, said SPD Officer Eric Gum.
While many cities host the event on a Tuesday in August, Sealy and many other Texas cities opted for an October date when the weather is a little cooler. The department also moved it to a weekend to allow families to stay out longer and not have to worry about getting kids to school the next day, Gum said, and they hold the event in a central location rather than sending officers around town to different neighborhoods.
“You could end up having three people standing in a driveway,” Gum said of National Night Out events that are held in neighborhoods throughout the city. “If people want to do that, we’ll go do that, but this was so much easier.”
The purpose of National Night Out is to allow residents to get to know their neighbors and their local law enforcement officers. The local fire department and church groups also participate.
“Our whole goal is to make it easier for citizens to have interaction with each other,” Gum said. “It’s laid back. We want people to get to know us.”
In their interactions at National Night Out, officers have had residents tell them, for example, about an abandoned building where drug activity is suspected.
“We check it out and turns out there’s something to it,” Gum said, explaining that citizens are more likely to share tips with officers in a non-threatening atmosphere like National Night Out, rather than a tense situation when officers are called to their homes. The PD also uses the opportunity to provide families fingerprint kits and DNA swabs in order to get children’s information in a database.
The department uses funds seized from criminal activity in order to pay for food and drinks and equipment for kids’ activities. The Sealy Downtown Association donated funds to showcase the Disney movie “Sing” at dusk.
“It’s a way to give back to the community,” Gum said.
Face painting, offered by Sealy ISD students, was so popular they’ll have to have more volunteers next year, the officer added.