Warwick Police and firefighters will be at the Oakland Beach Commons tonight as they take part in the 33rd Annual National Night Out community event focused on raising awareness and mutual respect between the youth and law enforcement. Based on building relationships and understanding for the local youths, a variety of agencies welcome the public to view demonstrations ranging from the Jaws of Life to a Coast Guard boat on the bay demonstrating the fire-hose off shore.
The event runs from 5 to 9:30 p.m. and will provide an active family night. There will be a touch-a-truck, cheerleaders, prize giveaways, police and fire department demonstrations and much more.
Ward 6 Councilwoman Donna Travis helped bring together more than 50 vendors and local agencies to team up and help promote the community and foster a mutual respect between children and law enforcement. She described National Night Out as an opportunity to say no to drugs and crime and for the youth to familiarize with police in a friendlier way.
“It’s an opportunity for kids to see that they don’t have to be afraid of the uniform and for the community to see young kids doing good things,” Travis said. She said that often the neighborhood sees youth as troublemakers, but she would like to highlight the positive nature of youths.
“Hopefully someone walks away having learned something new,” Travis elaborated “Don’t drink and drive. Don’t text and drive.”
Travis put together Night Out for 20 years now and is excited for this year because she believes it will be bigger than ever. For example, Travis said it is the first year the Blood Center is involved and will run a blood drive throughout the night.
Police and Navy Cadets will be present and assist with parking and traffic control. For the first time, the fire department is recruiting a cadet at the event as well.
Warwick Police officer Geoffrey Waldman became involved with Night Out just this year, but he is no stranger to the event. He was a police cadet back in 2001-02. He said it is a good opportunity for youth ages 14-20 to explore the possibility of becoming a police officer.
“A good number of kids follow through and become officers,” he said. “It’s similar classes to the police academy. Every year we look for new recruitments.”
Waldman said there will be a DUI demo where attendants to wear a pair of “beer goggles” and drive a cart around a course to experience the effects of drinking and driving.
Long-time sponsor Target will provide handouts for attendants and will have giveaways during the night. Last year prizes included bikes and scooters. Other entertainment includes a bouncy house, karate demonstrations by Don Rodrigues Karate Academy, Native American drummers, a jazz band, and a good deal more.
The Providence Bat-mobile will be there as well with the Rhode Island Search and Rescue, and the National Guard will bring their climbing wall. Free pizza, hotdogs and soda will be provided. Fireworks provided by the city of Warwick will close out the evening around 9 p.m.
“Of course, being a police event there will be some Dunkin Donuts,” Officer Waldman quipped.
For the adults, the Division of Taxation will have a booth set up with computer access for residents to check for unclaimed property and answer any questions people may have.