GREEN BROOK, NJ – The Green Brook Police Department held its first 'National Night Out – America’s Night Against Crime celebration on Tuesday, Aug. 4 and the event, which took place at the middle school from 5 to 9 p.m., was a huge success.

Held annually on the first Tuesday in August, the goal of National Night Out is to promote involvement in crime prevention activities, police-community partnerships and camaraderie to make neighborhoods safer and better places to live. With the days of foot patrol long gone, events such as National Night Out provide local police departments such as Green Brook with the opportunity to get to know residents and the residents the chance to meet and interact with police in a positive manner.

“This is a great opportunity to interact with the community and it allows us to get to know then and for them to get to know us and that we are here for them,” said G. Christopher Kurz, chief of the Green brook Police Department.

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Kurz, who’s been with the department 25 years and took over the leadership role last year, said the decision to hold a National Night Out celebration in Green brook comes from his strong believe in police-community relations. “I am big believer in community policing and events like this provide face time for us as well as residents,” said Kurz. “If the community knows who were and that we are here to help they will be more inclined to reach out to us for assistance and to assist us. Communication is key.”

Green Brook’s National Night Out celebration offered residents the opportunity to meet and speak with members of the police department, fire department and rescue squad as well as obtain information from local businesses and community groups, including but not limited to the Watchung Hills Regional Municipal Alliance, the Green Brook Education Foundation, Green Brook Recreation Department, the Police Benevolent Association and the Office of Emergency Management.

The well-attended event also featured free activities and giveaways as well as free food from Carrabba’s and drinks from Starbucks as well as popcorn. Music was provided by Party People Promotions with the DJ handing out free jump ropes and conducting a hula hoop contest. Additionally, children had the chance to check out the emergency vehicles, try on gear and even sit in the driver’s seat of a police car, sound the siren and put in a call to a live dispatcher.

“The police-community relationship is very important and this event is all about getting the community to know who we are and that we are there for them. We want people to know and trust us so they aren’t afraid to approach us,” said Green Brook Police Captain Samuel Caramela, adding, “It’s important to put a face on your police officer. If you don't know who we are then all you see if a badge and what is on our belt.”

The first National Night Out took place in 1984 and featured a traditional “lights on” campaign along with symbolic front porch vigils. Over the years, the campaign grew into a celebration across America and, today, over 37.8 million people and 16,124 communities from all 50 states, U.S. Territories, Canadian cities and military bases worldwide participate in National Night Out events.