Tuesday, August 07, 2001

'Night Out' has new role




By Sarah Buehrle and Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer Contributors

        Terri Heekin Murrie, who organized last year's and tonight's National Night Out events at Ault Park in Mount Lookout, knows the event has new meaning this year. The night of free music, food, and opportunity to meet neighborhood police officers comes after riots in April, recent violence on Cincinnati streets and a federal investigation of the Cincinnati Police Division.

        “Getting to know each other and each others' problems, and the officers that put their lives on the line each day, is very important,” said Ms. Heekin Murrie, a member of the Ault Park Advisory Council.

        Tonight, police departments across the nation — including many in the TriState — will participate in activities with the citizens they serve during the 18th National Night Out. A sam pling of local plans:

        • In Forest Park FBI, DEA and U.S. Secret Service groups will display equipment and demonstrate crimefighting techniques..

        • In Independence, the community's first Night Out focuses on bike safety.

        • In Mason, kids can dress as their favorite crimefighter and decorate bikes for a 7 p.m. parade at Corwin M. Nixon Park.

        National Night Out was organized for communities and officers to make a public statement against neighborhood crime. More than 32 million people participated nationwide last year.

        Locally, the emphasis has been to give the public a closer look at police. Canine units, fire department EMTs and underwater recovery officers will be demonstrating techniques at some of the gatherings this year.

        Mike Peskin, national co ordinator for Night Out, said in Cincinnati's case, this year is a good opportunity for police to get out in the community under fun, educational circumstances.

        “This (year) ... might be used as much for crime prevention as well as police-community partnerships and to repair some of the damage done,” Mr. Peskin said.

        David Millward, a 55-year-old retiree, will be passing out flyers for Independence's first Night Out. He is a recent graduate of the City of Independence Citizens' Police Academy.

        “They're just trying to educate the public and let them know they aren't the bad guys,” Mr. Millward said of officers.

        Perhaps one of the areas largest celebrations is in Forest Park, where police and other public safety officials will stage a mass casualty involving an overturned school bus. Visitors can see heli copters, smoke houses, firetrucks, police cruisers, mounted patrols, bike patrols and boats.

        There will be food, displays, a magician, an honor guard, bagpipes, face painting and gymnastics presentations.

        At 9:50 p.m. lights from all vehicles will be turned on and at 10 p.m. there will be a Rozzi Fireworks show to end the get together.

List of local Night Out events



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