LIVINGSTON, NJ — Thousands of Livingston residents supported the Livingston Police Department once again on Tuesday by attending the community’s ninth annual National Night Out, a nationwide endeavor to enhance the relationships between neighbors and their local law enforcement.

National Night Out brought Livingston residents and emergency personnel from many law enforcement and public safety entities together at the Memorial Oval for a positive community event that aimed promote police-community partnerships in order to make Livingston neighborhoods safer.

An opening ceremony honored 2017 Citizen of the Year, Helen Spirou, who in October of 2015 provided police with details that resulted in the apprehension of the suspects in a burglary that occurred at a Livingston business.

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“We wanted to acknowledge that this is what National Night Out is about: our partnership with the community, between our police and our citizens,” said Livingston Chief of Police Craig Handschuch. “Spirou taking that extra step to see what was going on and report it to us resulted in us capturing the burglars.”

During the ceremony, Spirou was presented with a plaque for her “outstanding dedication to crime prevention in our community.”

“We can’t do our jobs without the help of the residents,” said police officer Joy Klapal, who organized the event alongside officers Gary Mankowitz and Kevin Mullaney. “[Spirou] called in something suspicious and it helped us catch burglary suspects. So we work in partnership with the community.”

After newly appointed police chaplain Rev. Dan Martian delivered an opening prayer thanking all those who protect the community, the festivities began with exhibits, safety demonstrations and youth activities presented by emergency personnel who were on hand to showcase their equipment.

Children enjoyed being showered with water from a Livingston fire truck and also participated in various games and activities throughout the evening, courtesy of the West Essex YMCA. Attendees also posed for photos with McGruff the Crime Dog at a photo both provided by Step It Up.

Popular attractions for families included the two helicopters that landed in the middle of the Oval for all to see and the rides set up near the gazebo.

Many of Livingston’s pizzerias donated pizza to accompany the free hot dogs and refreshments provided by the Livingston Police and Fire Departments. In addition to supporting the annual event by providing the water activities, members of the Livingston Fire Department also manned the grills.

According to Livingston police, the ultimate goal of the event was to provide an opportunity for neighbors to get to know each other while also heightening crime and drug prevention awareness; building support and participation in local anti-crime programs; and, most importantly, representing the kind of spirit, energy and determination that is helping to make many neighborhoods safer places to live.

Mankowitz said that Livingston residents are the eyes and ears of the community. He encouraged more residents to become involved and to communicate more openly with their local police department so that it can prevent potential issues from occurring.

“There’s a simple explanation for standing up against crime and drugs, but it’s not that simple,” said Mankowitz. “We need the community to reach out and let us know what’s going on out there.”

The Livingston Police Department thanked the fire department for supporting the event since its inception, Saint Barnabas Medical Center for once again making a generous donation to National Night Out and all of the National Night Out 2017 sponsors. These included:

  • All Around Entertainment
  • Allstate/Neil H. Greco, LLC
  • Anthony Francos
  • Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza
  • Anthony Marra’s Restaurant
  • Antonio’s Salon and Spa
  • Argyle Marketplace
  • Bee Bee Designs
  • Beige & Blanc
  • Bernheim-Apter-Kreitzman
  • Best Provision Co.
  • Bottle King
  • Calabria
  • Corigliano Towing
  • Costco
  • Crystal Plaza
  • Dieci Lifestyle Spa
  • Dunkin’ Donuts
  • Eppes Essen
  • Expert Plowing & Landscaping LLC
  • Formosa Plastics Corp.
  • Gerardo “Junior” DaSilva
  • Hand and Stone Massage & Facial Spa
  • Handcrafters
  • Home Depot
  • Huntington Learning Center
  • Il Giacalone
  • Inglemoor Rehabilitation and Care Center
  • Investors Bank
  • Jerusalem Pizza
  • Karig’s Livingston Hardware
  • Kings
  • Kiwanis Club of Livingston
  • Landmark
  • Livingston Bagel
  • Livingston BID
  • Livingston Car Wash
  • Livingston Chamber of Commerce
  • Livingston Collision
  • Livingston Fire Department
  • Livingston High School
  • Livingston Mart
  • Livingston PBA Local #263
  • Livingston Pizza
  • Love Letters
  • Master Pizza
  • MMG Transportation LLC
  • My Way Pizzeria
  • Olive Garden
  • Panek’s Service Center
  • Pepsi
  • Pizzeta Enoteca
  • Ralph Errington Chartiable Foundation
  • Regal Bank
  • St. Barnabas Medical Center
  • ShopRite
  • Sign Me Up
  • Starbucks
  • Step It Up Events

Last year, more than 37-million people in all 50 states, as well as U.S. territories, Canada and military bases worldwide, participated in this annual event.

National Night Out festivities are held nationwide and are meant to increase awareness about police anti-crime programs that are taking place in communities. This event promotes various crime prevention programs including: neighborhood watch groups; residential and business security surveys; and crime prevention tips.

See above for the nearly 100 photos taken at Tuesday’s National Night Out in Livingston.