This is a lesson that Bayonne Police Chief Ralph Scianni conveyed at this year’s Night Out Against Crime, on Aug. 6.
Hundreds of kids and their parents enjoyed rides and snacks, while officers from the Bayonne Community Policing Program, the Bayonne Police Explorers Club, and the Hudson County Sheriff’s Department issued helpful information about crime prevention.
Other groups such as Women Rising were on hand to give savvy advice about safety and domestic violence.
Margaret Abrams represented two groups, Women Rising, offering information on domestic violence services, and a group called Rider of the Clouds, which educates motorists and others about motorcycles. She founded the group after her son’s death in 2012.
“We have just about everything a victim of domestic violence would need to obtain sources to get the help they need,” Abrams said.
Members of law enforcement have long touted the benefits of crime prevention. One of the efforts is National Night Out, designed to heighten awareness of and increase participation in anti-crime efforts. The first National Night Out was held in 1984 and has been growing ever since. In New Jersey, many municipalities participate in the effort to decrease crime rates.
The three-hour event took place on Del Monte Drive between 23rd and 24th Streets in the Bayonne Special Improvement District. The event brings together kids and police and provides a wealth of information helpful to parents.
Members of the Bayonne Police Department, Hudson County Sheriff’s Office, the Bayonne Municipal Utilities Authority, and the Bayonne Police Explorer Unit No. 227 volunteered their time.
Bayonne, according to Scianni, has participated in the event since 1992.
“We interact with the public,” he said. “I have a long history of being involved with the Community Policing program. Nights such as this give us an opportunity to listen to the concerns of citizens and deal with quality-of-life issues.”
Scianni said the event was designed to raise awareness about public safety in the community.
“This symbolizes anti-crime efforts,” he said. “We want to encourage the community to work together with the police in reporting any suspicious activities. As a result of raising public awareness regarding quality-of-life issues, we’ve been able to solve a number of crimes over the last year. It’s really helped to make our jobs easier.”
Scianni said that during his career as a police officer, he was assigned to Community Policing for 11 and a half years.
“It’s near and dear to my heart,” he said. “It contributes to community involvement and partnerships with as many people as possible.”
He said events like National Night Out help maintain these relationships on a long-term basis.
“This is a national event that is held in thousands of other communities,” said Captain Rob Geisler. This is his first year in the Community Policing program.
Events like this also give officers a chance to talk with other branches of law enforcement, such as the Hudson County Sheriff’s Department, Geisler said.
Explorers helping out
Members of the Police Explorers, Women Rising, the Hudson County Sheriff’s Department, and the police command center were on hand. Police equipment was on display, and officers distributed balloons and supervised the rides. Volunteers from the Department of Parks and McCabe’s Ambulance also were on hand.
Mike, who wanted his last name withheld, is chief of the Bayonne Police Explorers program, which is run from the high school. He has been with the program seven years.
Night Out provides an opportunity to recruit new members. The group currently has 23 members. The Explorers, ages 14 to 21, staff many of the information tables, handing out pamphlets and small gifts for kids.
The group, which meets at the high school every other Tuesday, learns basic skills involving law enforcement.
“Our next meeting will deal with domestic violence,” Mike said. “The next meeting, we’ll discuss scenarios to deal with it.”
In summer, the group has an Explorer Academy. During the year, it helps out with city events, such as Night Out. It also works traffic control during parades.
Many who join want to get into law enforcement, Mike said, and this is a good way to learn a lot of things they need to know, including prepping for the police entrance exam.
The Hudson County Sheriff’s Department
The Hudson County Sheriff’s Department was on hand to fingerprint kids and give them paper badges, coloring books, pencils, and rulers.
Along with plastic police helmets and other police-oriented toys, Bayonne police were also issuing IDs for kids, which are helpful if a child gets lost.
“For nearly three decades, the National Night Out has brought communities together with their public-safety personnel to recognize their inherent partnership in making our streets, our neighborhoods, and our homes as safe as possible,” said U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez in a statement. “I applaud the many organizations supporting this year’s events, including the more than 100 events in New Jersey, to help fight drugs, gun violence, and other crime by promoting community-oriented police programs.”
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.