A half hour before the festivities of this year’s “Night Out Against Crime” in West New York began on Aug. 4, kids and parents gathered at the gate to Miller Stadium. This was the 32nd year of an event celebrated nationwide, sponsored locally by the city of West New York and the West New York Police Department.
Although many of the kids came for the bouncing castles, free hotdogs, candy, and other goodies, the event was designed to provide an education on safety, and health – not merely for the kids, but also for their parents.
“National Night Out” is an annual event held in communities nationwide to promote anti-crime programs and strengthen relations between police and the people they protect.
“This is all about bringing police and the community together,” said Mayor Felix Roque.
Military surplus will help WNY
A particular fascination for kids and their parents was the large surplus military truck the city has obtained from the federal government.
“We’ve had it for about nine months,” said Police Director Robert Antolos.
Military trucks of this kind are extremely useful during floods, he said, because their exhaust runs along a vent near the top of the cab unlike more conventional vehicles with exhaust pipes near the ground.
“This is all about bringing police and the community together.” – Mayor Felix Roque.
One of the more popular tables allowed kids to handle simulated training weapons and other gear used by police in emergency situations.
Painted a light brick color to keep them from being mistaken for the real thing, the weapons are typically used in training exercises, officers said.
Nearby, the West New York Department of Health had a table largely aimed at providing safety tips for parents. Director Gina Diaz said a number of commercial products have become hazardous to young kids. Among the hidden dangers were the laundry pods of detergent that are put into a washing machine. Unfortunately, laundry pods are small enough for kids to swallow, and the liquid version can be poisonous. The first six months of 2015, over 6,000 kids under 5 years old were rushed to the hospital after swallowing a pod.
“We’re also trying to alert parents about the dangers kids face when they walk and text,” Diaz said. “Kids often aren’t looking where they are going, so that drivers must be watchful.”
A lot of the warnings are geared towards the upcoming back to school season, but some are about items found in the home.
Flat screen TVs can tip over on a small child.
Kids have also been known to swallow lithium batteries, which are used in a lot of handheld devices.
Women Rising expects to open a crisis center in WNY this year
Women Rising, which provides programs for women and families throughout Hudson County, was on hand to provide guidance and advice to battered women.
“We’re here to empower women and families,” said Margaret Abrams, coordinator for Domestic Violence Services. “We do not have a center open in West New York yet, but we expect to open one in the next year.”
Offering green plastic bracelets and a packet of information, Women Rising is geared towards proving services that include treatment and prevention. The group also has a response team to help women and families in need.
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.