ELIZABETH, NJ - Police emergency service trucks, ballistic vests, helmets, shields and more will be on display for the 34th annual National Night Out event this Tuesday at School No. 26
Members from the city’s police and fire departments will be on hand to interact with the community starting at 6 p.m. at Dr. Orlando Edreira Academy at 631 Westminster Ave. A viewing of the movie "Smurfs: The Lost Village" will start at 8:30 p.m. after the meet-and-greet ends.
“For us, it’s kind of a show-and-tell kind of experience in addition to the one-on-one interaction with the officers,” Policemen's Benevolent Association (PBA) State Delegate Jason Luis said in a phone interview.
Luis, who also serves the city as a daytime patrol officer, and PBA President Orlando Barros talked about the annual event in an interview conducted by Mayor Christian Bollwage for a segment on “Our City,” which airs on television and is available on YouTube.
“There's a constant negative [stigma] that comes with being a police officer,” Luis said in the interview. “So this is a good event where when you see the children, you can walk up to them and they don't think that the police are doing a bad thing.”
Police officers from L.E.A.D., a program similar to D.A.R.E., will be sharing information about drug resistance and handing out goodies like coloring books and frisbees to kids, Luis said.
The fire department will also display some their equipment. In previous years, the firefighters showcased the jaws of life.
Bollwage will also issue a proclamation at the event on Tuesday announcing August as baseball month in the city, the mayor said in his weekly television segment.
Last year, hundreds of residents came out to the National Night Out event. Residents are encouraged to bring a lawn chair or blanket to sit on while watching the movie.
The first National Night Out took place in 1984 and was introduced by Matt Peskin, who volunteered in his suburban Philadelphia town's community watch program that worked with the local police department.
Over 2 million people across 400 municipalities in 23 states participated in the first National Night Out. Today, 38 million people in 16,000 communities take part in the event, according to the National Association of Town Watch's website.