One of the busiest attractions at this year’s “Night Out Against Crime” at Pershing Field was the Dunk the Cop tank. People lined up for their chance to hurl a baseball at a target and score a bulls-eye that would dump a police officer into a vat of water. Oddly enough, many of those in line or observing from the sidelines were off-duty cops, like Police Capt. Edgar Martinez. They heckled their fellow officers for their poor aim while Jersey City residents enjoyed the friendly competition.
Pershing Field was one of four parks in the city that provided an opportunity for police to interact with local residents.
“National Night Out” is held annually on the first Tuesday of August, and now involves more than 37.8 million people and 16,124 communities from all fifty states, U.S. Territories, Canadian cities, and military bases worldwide. “America’s Night Out Against Crime” began in 1984, in reaction to spikes in crime in urban areas, when residents saw the need to take back their neighborhoods. The night out promotes education about crime prevention activities, police-community partnerships, neighborhood camaraderie, and lets criminals know that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.
“National Night Out is a great opportunity for residents to get to know their neighbors and the officers who patrol their community, as well as the police leadership,” said Florence Holmes, an active member of the Friends of Arlington Park. “We are grateful for events like this that strengthen the relationships we have with the Police Department as we all work together to improve public safety in our city.”
Sponsored by Mayor Steven Fulop, the Jersey City Police Department, the Police Officers’ Benevolent Association (P.O.B.A.), the Jersey City Police Superior Officers’ Association (P.S.O.A.), and the Jersey City Police Foundation, the event featured activities for children and adults and was an opportunity for residents to get to know veteran officers and new recruits as the Police Department continues to strengthen community relations.
“Relationships between law enforcement and community members are important to enhancing public safety.” – Mayor Steven Fulop
At Pershing Field, kids and adults were treated to a mixture of entertainment and education with moon bounces, balloon sculpturing, a dunk tank, popcorn, hot dogs, giveaways and more.
Retired police officer and current Ward C Councilman Richard Boggiano joined Ward D Councilman Michael Yun in greeting people.
Getting to know each other
At Pershing Field, the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office displayed its latest investigation vehicle, while members of the department handed out public safety information.
Nearby, cartoon characters such as Sponge Bob and Spiderman got down and danced to music provided by a local DJ.
Tables providing information by various community and service organizations offered information to residents on safety and other services.
“Our officers are working the streets and getting to know residents and business owners each and every day, and events like National Night Out are an added chance for us to meet with the community and discuss any issues or ideas they may have,” said Public Safety Director James Shea. “Any time we can positively engage with the community we serve, we are strengthening the dialogue between police and the community that helps us do the best job possible for our residents.”
Police Chief Philip Zacche said the event allows police officers to interact with public in an informal setting.
“As officers, we know that ‘National Night Out’ is one of the best events for us each year, because it gives us the ability to speak with the community in a more informal setting,” he said. “It’s also a time for us to interact with children and teenagers to show them that police can be a positive in their lives and that a career in law enforcement is a path that can help them give back and improve their community.”
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.