Building relationships: Clay celebrates National Night Out by connecting law enforcement, community

By Don Coble don@claytodayonline.com
Posted 8/3/22

CLAY COUNTY – Painted faces, food trucks and children with red, blue and purple-stained tongues made Tuesday’s National Night Out a big success throughout Clay County.

The national program is …

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Building relationships: Clay celebrates National Night Out by connecting law enforcement, community

Posted

CLAY COUNTY – Painted faces, food trucks and children with red, blue and purple-stained tongues made Tuesday’s National Night Out a big success throughout Clay County.

The national program is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live.

There were gatherings on Fleming Island’s Crosspointe Church, Keystone Heights, Middleburg, Kingsley Lake, Penney Farms and Green Cove Springs.

The program was designed to “enhance the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement while bringing back a true sense of community,” according to the organization, and it provides a great opportunity to bring police and neighbors together under positive circumstances.

Neighborhoods were encouraged to host block parties, festivals, parades, cookouts and various other community events with safety demonstrations, seminars, youth events, visits from emergency personnel and exhibits.

At Crosspointe, children got free Hawaiian Ices that briefly tainted the inside of their mouths in bright colors.

They played games, visited 20 exhibits and got the opportunity to talk with first responders.

In Keystone Heights, the event had booths from local businesses and organizations like the Woman’s Club and Kiwanis to show their support and engage with the community. In addition, the event had food trucks to provide refreshments for the visitors. As the visitors walked and enjoyed the event, the sheriff’s department’s booth gave out logo items while engaging with the community.

“It gives the community a different outlook on law enforcement,” said Dep. Dimitri Santiago. “Unfortunately, most of the community only faces law enforcement when bad things happen. So, we would like to be there when good things happen. Show them that there is good also along with everything else.”

The Keystone Heights’s National Night Out was sponsored by the Keystone Heights Sheriff’s Net, an organization of volunteers who work to connect the agency with residents.

Sheriff Michelle Cook visited the events at Crosspointe, Penney Farms and Lake Kingsley. She called it “date night” because it helps her deputies and residents to become more familiar with each other.

Correspondent Natalie Gilstrap contributed to this report.

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