HUBBARD - Games and free food drew in many for National Night Out, but organizers across Trumbull County agree that the real message is to show that law enforcement is a part of the community.
National Night Out events were scheduled locally in Hubbard, Warren and Niles along with thousands of other communities nationwide.
Residents were asked to lock their house doors, turn on outside lights and spend the evening in a local park or neighborhood with police, friends, family and neighbors.
Tribune Chronicle / R. Michael Semple
Brayden Durkos, 4, snaps a photo of the Hubbard High School football team with an iPhone as the team is introduced at Hubbard’s National Night Out on Tuesday at Harding Park. Night Out events also were held in Warren and Niles.
"We want to send a message to the bad guys that we're not afraid of them," Hubbard Township police Chief Todd Coonce said. "We're not going to give in to crime, and we're all going to enjoy a night out."
While early afternoon rains threatened to dampen the festivities, the skies eventually parted and Hubbard's event saw a solid turnout, with police and organizers feeding everyone who attended the picnic in Harding Park.
Coonce said the main goal was to let children meet police officers in a different setting while also promoting prevention of crime and drug abuse.
"A lot of times, people in the community only come across (police officers) when it's a less than great circumstance," Coonce said. "This event is a good way for people to get to know the officers of Hubbard and Hubbard Township in a different environment."
Hubbard Mayor John Darko said that the event, the fourth the city and township have hosted, is a great way to break down walls between citizens and law enforcement.
"We want to get the people out and really get to meet the police officers here," Darko said. "It's important to build a good relationship."
Those who attended the Hubbard event were treated to a second-annual classic car show, as well as a softball game between the city and township police forces, a Chinese auction, music and a chance to meet the 2014 Hubbard High School football team.
In Warren, more than 100 people attended the Night Out at the Hampshire House Apartment. Kelly Lampley, organizer of the Warren event, said this is the third year ABC Management hosted the local National Night Out.
Like her counterparts in Hubbard, Lampley said the Warren event is designed to show the young people of the city that law enforcement is there to help.
"We want to show the young kids that they don't need to be afraid to report crimes that they see," Lampley said. "Police and firefighters can be their friends; young people don't need to be scared (to report crime)."
The Warren event saw a number of games and activities, including sack races, an inflatable bounce house and face painting from Jefferson Pre-K teachers. Later in the afternoon, Warren Mayor Doug Franklin, as well as sixth ward councilwoman Cheryl Saffold each gave presentations to those in attendance.
While many local communities are marking their third or fourth years of hosting such an event, it began 29 years ago and has grown nationally. National Night Out is sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch and has involved more than 15,000 communities from all 50 states and military bases around the world.
It was designed to heighten crime and drug prevention awareness, generate support for and participation in local anti-crime efforts, strengthen neighborhood spirit and police community partnership and send a message to criminals that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.