This year’s event was held Tuesday, August 7, from 5 to 9 p.m. It was organized by the Bayonne Police Department and the Bayonne Urban Enterprise Zone/Special Improvement District.
Nonprofit organizations that participated in the event distributed promotional items.
Organizations on hand included the Hudson County Improvement Authority, the Elks, Hudson Relay for Life, the Bayonne Fire department, Remember Me, the Department of Aging, and the EMS Task Force.
Assemblyman Nicholas Chiaravalloti provided kid-friendly information about government: how a bill becomes law and little-known facts, such as the state bird. Residents were also instructed on how to raise concerns with the assemblyman.
Pastor Gary from Grace Lutheran was on hand. He brought along an intern pastor, AJ Houseman, who’s spending a year with the congregation and seemed to enjoy meeting Bayonne residents at National Night Out.
Families were encouraged to head out to Broadway, between 21st Street and 23rd Street, to enjoy free children’s rides, free popcorn, free ice cream, various giveaway items, soft drinks, snacks, music by DJ Jose, and displays from agencies and organizations.
Judging by the crowds, residents heeded the call.
The generators from the bounce houses mixed with the sound of the popcorn machine, the music, and kids literally squealing while having their pictures taken on a police motorcycle added to a general sense of boisterous fun.
“National Night Out is a great event that promotes safer neighborhoods and police-community partnerships across America,” Mayor James Davis said before inviting residents to attend the festivities as part of efforts “to work with the police against crime throughout the year.”
Two enthusiastic participants were 19-year-old Tyler who was chaperoning his eight-year-old brother Devin.
“It’s lots of fun,” Devin said. “I like the bounce house, the races, and the obstacle course.”
Tyler agreed. “We come every year. It’s really fun and entertaining. The little ones have a good time, and there are good vendors and good food.”
Tyler was quick to point out the main purpose of the event. “The police are truly nice,” he said. “They make you feel safe.”
“The little ones have a good time, and there are good vendors and good food. The police are truly nice. They make you feel safe.”—Tyler, age 19
Police officers guided kids through demonstrations of their vehicles. Parents took pictures of their kids on a police motorcycle, in an all-terrain buggy, and the fan favorite, the cruiser.
Families were having a great time at the festival, which was completely free to the public, including bounce houses and food.
Police officers handed out free hot dogs, popcorn, and plastic police helmets for kids.
The BPD provided information but identity theft and other white-collar crime, which are issues in Bayonne, according to detectives Dias and Morales.
Detective Sterilino warned of mailbox thieves, who use glue to draw out mail, usually at night. He advises emptying your mailbox during the day.
National Night Out also provides a platform for attracting young talent to the force.
One of those aspiring talents was Febronia, a Police Explorer. This is a career-oriented program that gives young adults the chance to explore careers in law enforcement by working with local law enforcement agencies, such as the BPD.
Febronia, 20, is studying criminal justice at Rutgers.
The next generation of police officers will be expected to be emotionally intelligent as well as technologically savvy. Police departments are using new technologies to achieve this, such as virtual reality.
Policing is changing, as evidenced by police departments’ increased efforts to engage positively with communities and by next-generation training for young officers.
Councilman at large and former Hudson County sheriff Juan Perez is a Night Out regular. “This is a way to make it clear that cops are the good guys,” he said. “They can be role models for kids. And if kids have a question, they can take it straight to a police officer.”
Rory Pasquariello can be reached at email@example.com.