National Night Out returns this August

7/6/2017 | Chris Maza

Category: July 2017

Agawam Police Officer Bob Burke admits that five years ago when pitched the idea of hosting National Night Out, he had no idea it would be quite so popular.

“When I first went to the mayor and the chief about this, we thought we would be happy with getting a few hundred people,” he said. “We had way more than we’ve expected and ever since then, it’s kind of taken on a life of its own.”

Agawam Police, along with other town and local area public safety departments, will present the fifth annual National Night Out on Aug. 1 at School Street Park with an anticipated attendance of between 3,000 and 3,500 people.

“The first two years we had it at the high school, but we moved it over to the School Street Park,” Burke explained. “It’s really blossomed into something we didn’t expect.”

With the move to the School Street Park location, organizers have been able to blend the National Night Out with the Agawam Cultural Council’s SummerFest concert series. National Night Out festivities take place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and the Aug. 2 concert featuring the popular country music band Trailer Trash begins at 7 p.m.

“It’s nice because people who come for the National Night Out can have the chance to see at least some of the concert and some stay all the way through both events,” he said.

The National Night Out initiative, which was launched in 1984, is designed to help build stronger relationships between law enforcement and the community.

“It allows people to see law enforcement in a different aspect. The public gets to see them as people. Our guys love it because it allows people to see law enforcement in a different light than what people see on the news and things like that,” Burke said. “It also helps build trust with the younger generation so they can know that they can come to us when they have a problem and feel confident in talking with us.”

Along with the Agawam Police Department, representatives of the Massachusetts State Police, Hampden County Sheriff’s Department and the U.S. Marshals Service will be on hand.

Burke also noted that while law enforcement is a primary focus, many other town departments and community groups and organizations will take part in the event.

“We get a lot of community support that we’re really grateful for,” he said. “Everything is by donation and the people helping us out are doing so on their own time.”

The Fire Department will conduct a demonstration with the Jaws of Life and trucks from the Fire Department and the Department of Public Works will be available for children to explore.

Burke added one of the local preschools will provide child safety information.

“Last year they covered household safety and childproofing your home,” he said. “This year, I believe they will be doing something with bike safety.”

A landing by Blackhawk helicopters could also be added to this year’s slate, depending on availability.

Local radio stations 99.7 The Q and 94.7 WMAS are expected to participate as well.

“WMAS was here last year as well and The Q, which is an Agawam station, has been a big supporter for us from the very beginning,” Burke said.

A complete list of participants will be finalized closer to the event.

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