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Arlington's National Night Out brings police, community together


Christopher Andersson

Local resident Margueritta Herz, right, and Arlington Police Chief Jonathan Ventura talk at the 2016 National Night Out in Arlington on Aug. 2 in Haller Park.

Many Arlington neighborhoods came out to talk to police and city officials during the annual National Night Out Aug. 2.

Arlington Police Chief Jonathan Ventura said it was a great time to go out and get to know the people in your neighborhood.

"I can't speak highly enough for just going out and getting to know your neighbors," he said.

"A lot of neighborhoods use this time to build social networking sites to share information," he said.

Ventura said that about a year and a half ago Bruce Stedman became the public safety director for the city and instituted a campaign to get the public more engaged with the police department.

"That's been a big deal for the department," he said.

National Night Out is part of that initiative to engage the community.

Annette Patterson, the organizer of the Haller Park get-together for National Night Out, said it's a good place to get to know your neighbors.

"It brings the community together. You get to talk to your neighbors in a relaxed atmosphere," she said.

In addition to neighbors, you can also learn a lot about your city officials and police officers, she added.

"You get to talk to city officials and it's less formal at National Night Out. It's just like talking to your neighbor instead of talking to a police officer or the mayor or a city council member," she said.

Ventura said part of the idea behind National Night Out is to help the public see police officers as normal people as well.

"We're the police department and we're here to serve you, and we need you to know that we're people too," he said.

Local resident Jeri Rugtvedt said that National Night Out was an "awesome idea" and said she found a lot of information she could bring back to her own neighborhood after the event.

"It's great being able to talk to the officers and get some information, as well as meet the other neighbors," she said.

This year had a large number of neighborhoods participating as well, said Ventura.

Christopher Andersson

Arlington's new deputy chief of police Dan Cone, left, and Arlington resident Jeri Rugtvedt talk at the 2016 National Night Out in Arlington on Aug. 2 in Haller Park.

"Last year we had six neighborhoods and this year we have 12 neighborhoods that are actually going to be doing this," he said. "Hats off to you for being all-in and taking back your community."

Patterson said last year's Haller Park event attracted 150 people at one point, and despite some early raining she was optimistic about this year's event.

"We had rain a little earlier, but I'm hoping people are going to come out," she said.

She likes to meet neighbors, make friends and, in general, just organizing the event, she said.

"I did better this year than I did last year," she said.

Ventura said that the police department is also launching a new program, Conversations with a Cop, to help the community talk with cops more this August.

Local police officers will be stopping by local businesses for 30 minutes each week for informal talks.

"There's no script, there's nothing pre-planned. An officer will just get out of the car and you can talk," said Ventura.


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