National Night Out against crime next week


OFFICER JOSE CAMPOS (right) pulls the Jenga block that topples the tower, and makes Christian Zirbel (left) the winner of a cops versus kids game at last year’s National Night Out.
By: 
Staff Report

Celebrate safe neighborhoods next week with the Wilmington Police Department during its second National Night Out event.
This “Night Out Against Crime,” is completely free, and will take place on Tuesday, Aug. 7, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at Wilmington High School, 209 Wildcat Court.
National Night Out is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make neighborhoods safer, better places to live. It enhances the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement and fosters a true sense of community.
National Night Out events are held annually on the first Tuesday of August in 16,000 communities in all 50 states, United States territories, Canadian cities, and military bases worldwide.
Police Chief Phil Arnold said National Night Out was such a hit last year that the department wanted to do it again.
“It’s a way for us to build relationships with the community,” the chief said. “People come out and see us for a good thing ... and they can get to know who we are and what we do.” The event is a chance for a face to face at a time that’s not tense, or traumatic or in any way negative.
In addition to building relationships between the police officers and community, National Night Out gets residents more active in keeping their own community safe. Although it’s not a community watch program, residents who get to know their local police officers are more likely to contact the police when they see something taking place. Since it’s typically an event that doesn’t bring in visitors, neighbors have a chance to get to know one another a little better.
NNO was moved to Wilmington High School this year for the additional space the campus provides. Last year, Chief Arnold notes, there were so many activities that they had to be set up on both sides of the road going through the South Island Park, which meant that youngsters were crossing back and forth through the traffic. That was a safety concern for the emergency responders.
The school also provides an alternate location in case of inclement weather.
The event begins a half hour earlier this year, and free hot dogs and burgers are available for dinner. There’ll be sno cones and popcorn for snacking.
This year’s activities will include inflatable jumpers, games and contests co-sponsored by Christian Life Assembly, as well as face painting, playing in the foam created by the Wilmington Coalition for a Healthy Community’s foam machine, balloons and free raffles for baskets and individual items donated by local businesses.
Participants will be able to meet Wilmington’s police officers, including the department’s drug-sniffing canine Mao and its cadet explorers, and emergency responders from the Emergency Services and Disaster Agency, the Wilmington Fire Protection District and the Will County Sheriff’s Department SWAT team — and they’ll be able to tour some of their vehicles.
There will be a band and a DJ by Night Out Productions.
Raffle prizes were donated by Wilmington House Family Restaurant, Hayden’s Crossing, Nelly’s, Whitmore Ace Hardware, AJ’s Hot Dogs, Faletti Meats, the Chick-A-Dee, Sophie Nails, Styles on 66, Shear Design, Geri’s Hair Salon, Fox’s Pizza, Wilmington Pizzeria, The Hair Care and G&D Tire and Alignment.
Sponsors include Bellettini Foods, Berkot’s Super Foods, D’Orazio Ford, Wilmington Collision Center, Lombardi Chevy-Buick, Midwest Classics on Route 66 and Begler’s Auto Repair and Performance.
Officer Tony Ritz of the Wilmington Police Department is the event organizer. Event partners include the city of Wilmington, School District 209-U, the Wilmington Coalition for a Healthy Community and the Wilmington Lions Club.