SHINNSTON, W.Va. – The Shinnston Police Department and the city held their annual National Night Out which is a community-building campaign promoting police and neighborhood camaraderie on Wednesday.
Community members, families, and kids filled Ferguson Memorial Park to enjoy free swimming, food, kid’s activities, and police K-9 demonstrations. Police officers said National Night Out is important because the community members are their eyes and ears and rely on communicating with them through neighborhood watch groups.
“Since I’ve taken over four years ago, I’ve tried to get more integrated into community policing, which I have. And, to just stand by and try and reduce the crime rate with what we can. We’ve got a neighborhood watch that we do. The public really maintains and talks with us about that and they’re really getting integrated to help solve issues that we have,” said Chief Jon Harbert, Shinnston Police Department.
Chief Harbert said they do not have the funds that some other larger cities have but that does not stop them from being able to do something for the kids which he says is important to the department’s officers. He also added the event allows the officers time to interact with the public when they are not on the road and working in a relaxed atmosphere.
“We want to show the public that the police can also be approachable,” said Chief Harbert. “With everything, we do it’s not always going to your house on calls where things can be visioned the wrong way if were arresting parents, family members, and things in that nature.”
For some of the kids at National Night Out it can be the first time for them to meet a police officer in an informal setting and be able to speak with them one on one. Officers stated using K-9 units is a great way to break the ice.
“Everybody loves dogs, my K-9s you’ll have here later on, very approachable. I also have another female that I am training. So, having a pup to kind of lightens the mood. Showing them that everybody, you know, it’s the same thing that you are at home. We just have to wear a badge and different equipment to do our job,” said Chief Harbert.
Shinnston Police said that National Night Out works for them getting them out into the public eye showing the community what they are doing.