National Night Out is an annual event in which residents are encouraged to sit on their porches to say hi to neighbors, or attend local safety fairs, in order to show they’re vigilant about crime. The night also helps the community get to know their first responders in a fun, informal setting.
“This kind of outreach is critical,” said Mayor Ravi Bhalla. “There has been a 10 percent drop in crime in the first six months of this year compared to the first six months of last year, and I am happy there has also been not one complaint of police misconduct. I may be biased, but I would say we have the best Police Department in the state of New Jersey.”
Several organizations and businesses gave out freebies for kids. Families enjoyed bounce houses, water slides, airbrushed tattoos, spin art, free hot dogs and beverages, and games.
The Police Department provided free car seat checks and installations. The Hoboken Fire Department gave a demonstration using the Jaws of Life on a PT cruiser, and the Stevens Police Department let children try on their tactical vests and helmets.
“It’s nice to just spend a fun evening out with the community.” – Jessica Hobeach
"National Night Out started in the ’90s and is the original event that worked to bring together the police, the community, and private and public agencies to make a stance against crime,” said Hoboken Police Chief Ken Ferrante. “While we are involved in outreach and other events around the city throughout the year, this event is unique. It’s a party where first responders can network and get to know the public in a fun setting.”
He said that each year, his student resource officers -- Melissa Gigante, Anthony Feskin, Juan Madera, Justin DePascale, Mike Depalma, and Robert Truppner -- put the event together and take pride in organizing the event, which helps instill public confidence in first responders.
“Oftentimes we meet people on the worst day of their lives,” said Hoboken Fire Chief Brian Crimmins. “This [event] allows them to get to know us in a happier setting.”
He said the demonstrations can be reassuring.
“It helps establish public trust and acts as proof that if there was ever an issue and they need our help, we are ready,” said Crimmins.
Jessica Hobeach, a Hoboken resident, said she brings her children every year as its important to her that they know the police and firefighters are there to help them.
“It’s nice to just spend a fun evening out with the community,” she said.
Natalie Valez, who has police officers in her family, said there can be a negative stigma against police officers due to social media, but that wasn’t how it was when she grew up, and is not how the community feels in Hoboken.
Marilyn Baer can be reached at email@example.com.