CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Communities and police departments across the state came together Tuesday night to unite against crime.
It was all part of the 30th annual National Night Out On Crime, a national event sponsored by the National Association of Neighborhood Watches meant to bring communities and law enforcement together for the same cause.
U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said this is about community involvement, which is key to fighting crime.
“Having people out on their front porches, kids playing out on the sidewalks and people engaged in these sorts of activities everyday,” said Goodwin. “That’s what’s going to drive the criminal element away and make our communities much more safe.”
In the Charleston area, six communities in total held activities as part of the national event against crime. In the community of Orchard Manor for instance, residents and kids saw a parade, got to try their hand at the rock climbing wall and were able to mingle with local law enforcement officers.
“We need to have good police/community relations and man, for us to be able to come to a venue like this, mingle with the community, and to interact, and to talk, and to laugh, and to have fun, but also to communicate and pass business cards out. That’s priceless,” said Cpl. Errol Randle with the Charleston Police Department.
Dunbar resident June Prieto took part in the activities at Orchard Manor and she believes the event truly makes a difference.
“I think it’s a good step,” she said. “Especially if we get our young people involved, are little kids, to know that police are here to help us and not to hurt us.”
That is another goal of the National Night Out On Crime, to break that negative perception that when people see police, that means bad stuff is happening.
“It’s critical to have a positive view of our law enforcement personnel,” said Goodwin. “I mean, they’re there to protect and serve us and they put their lives on the line everyday to do so.”
For a couple hours Tuesday night, law enforcement officers across the state and the nation, took off their badges to show residents that their is a name and a face behind it and that they are no different.
“We are just like them,” said Randle. “We all want the same thing, a safe community.”
Goodwin said that communities coming together and looking out for each other is the most effective tool law enforcement has for fighting crime.