Elkhart festival highlights community policing
Posted: 07/29/2012 at 1:15 am
By: Dan Spalding
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Anna Riggs (center), 4, of Elkhart gets her fingers printed during the Night Out Against Crime event held in downtown Elkhart last year. The event was hosted by the Elkhart Police Department. (Truth Photo By Elizabeth Frantz)
It’s a line Elkhart city police hear too often from people when they are in the middle of investigating a crimes — be it a break-in, drug deal or even a case of suspected child abuse.
Officers hope to break down that invisible barrier nine days from today when they host the fourth annual Night out Against Crime at the downtown Civic Plaza Aug. 7.
The festival is multi-faceted, but the main hope is to encourage people to be more willing to contact and work with police.
Witnesses and bystanders who suspect something criminal is happening often mention their suspicions to police after the fact.
“We hear that a lot,” said Sgt. Wayne Bias.
Police want to encourage people to contact authorities if they suspect something is wrong and should not feel as if they have to be certain about the circumstances to do so. Officers are willing to investigate even if the tips don’t pan out, Bias said.
“We would be overjoyed with it,” Bias said.
The festival begins at 4 p.m. and runs until 9 p.m., and is intended to benefit both adults and children.
The event will be spread across the Civic Plaza and Central Park.
More than 30 booths representing a wide variety of groups and agencies from across Elkhart County are already lined up to participate and organizers are still seeking more reservations.
For children, there will be games, food and drinks and they can get an up-close look at various types of emergency vehicles used by police.
Many of the booths will be geared toward updating adults on services that are available.
The National Night Out Against Crime began 29 years ago in an attempt to enhance community policing efforts and enlighten residents about the available services.
The evening is intended to be a fun and relaxing opportunity to meet with police and learn more about services, he said.
Bias said support from the business community has been strong, and as an example, pointed to donations from NIPSCO over the past two years to support the festival.
Representatives of the Elkhart County Sheriff’s department as well as the county’s emergency management office are expected to participate.
Personnel from the YWCA, Red Cross and numerous other agencies will attend, he said.
Groups or agencies interested in getting involved in the festival can call 295-7070, ext. 30 for more details.