BERLIN – Local residents will have the opportunity to get out in their neighborhoods next week for the annual National Night Out campaign.
On Aug. 1, several communities across the Eastern Shore, including Berlin, Ocean City, Snow Hill and Salisbury, will come together with local law enforcement agencies to promote awareness, partnership and neighborhood spirit.
National Night Out, a decades-old campaign, is designed to heighten crime and drug prevention and awareness, support local anticrime efforts and strengthen police-community partnership.
What started out as a small celebration across 400 communities now consists of 38 million participants in 16,000 communities, according to the organization.
Similar to community events across the nation, local law enforcement agencies and residents on Tuesday will come together to converse about local issues and build neighborhood comradery.
In Berlin, the annual event will be held at Henry Park from 4-7 p.m. and will include moon bounces, health screenings, educational booths, police and fire vehicles and free food.
Berlin Police Chief Arnold Downing said agencies, such as the Worcester County Health Department, Berlin Fire Department, Maryland Coastal Bays Program, Atlantic General Hospital, Berlin Area Ministries United, Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services and more, will be in attendance.
Like in years past, Downing said the event gives law enforcement agencies the opportunity to spread a positive message to the community.
“We are all fighting crimes and perceived deceptions,” he said. “It shows the community we can put on an event and come together and talk. It’s something that continues far beyond that event.”
He encouraged community members to join the National Night Out celebration.
“There is free food, booths and games not only for kids, but for the entire community,” he said.
As part of its celebration, the Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) will host events for the year-round communities of Montego Bay (in the park at the end of Assateague Court), Caine Woods (at Fiesta Park) and the Bayshore Drive neighborhood (at the Gullway Villas courtyard) from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday.
Lindsay Richard, public affairs specialist with the OCPD, said National Night Out is one of many outreach events the OCPD will utilize this year.
“We have really begun to put even more focus into community outreach this year and National Night Out is community outreach to its core, so the event is really important to us,” she said.
Richard said each event offers a barbecue-type atmosphere for residents of the three neighborhoods. Officers will be at each event and K9 and mounted units will also make visits to each location.
Richard explained that reaching out to year-round residents give local law enforcement officials the opportunity to address certain issues.
“With National Night Out, that’s when we usually here complaints,” she said. “It’s good for us to hear things so we can address them. It’s like a drip of water. After a while, it gets annoying.”
Ocean City Police Chief Ross Buzzuro said the event is an all-call for neighborhood residents to meet OCPD officers and voice their concerns.
“National Night Out is a prime opportunity for us to get into the communities and meet the residents,” he said. “Each National Night Out event in Ocean City is in our more year-round neighborhoods and serves as a chance for the neighbors to spend time with each other. It also gives us a chance to hear the concerns of our residents in their unique neighborhoods in a very casual and fun environment.”
Other communities, including Snow Hill and Salisbury will also host similar events Tuesday night.
In Snow Hill, the celebration will take place from 5-8:30 p.m. at Byrd Park. Festivities include free hot dogs and soda, kids’ games, face painting, music and vehicle displays.
In Salisbury, National Night Out will take place at Salisbury City Park from 5-8 p.m. Festivities include live performances, vendors, food, activities and more.