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Jeanna Thomas (right) talks with Mark Webster at the bomb disposal display during the Elkhart Police Department’s annual “Night Out Against Crime” event at the Civic Plaza and Central Park on Tuesday, Aug. 6. (AP)

Elkhart Police Cpl. Scott Garvey takes a plunge in the dunk tank during the annual Night Out Against Crime event Tuesday, August 6. (Truth Photo By J. Tyler Klassen) (AP)

Kaytlin Kochever slides down the inflatable slide during the annual Night Out Against Crime event Tuesday, August 6. (Truth Photo By J. Tyler Klassen) (AP)

Deven Packer (left) throws a dart at the dart throw during the annual Night Out Against Crime event Tuesday, August 6. Cpl Nathan Lanzen (right) looks on. (Truth Photo By J. Tyler Klassen) (AP)

Elkhart Police Lt. Brent Long cooks some of the 3,500 hot dogs the department had at its annual “Night Out Against Crime” event at the Civic Plaza and Central Park on Tuesday, Aug. 6. (AP)
Elkhart takes a ‘Night Out Against Crime’
Posted on Aug. 6, 2013 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on Aug. 6, 2013 at 7:42 p.m.

ELKHART — The Elkhart Police Department was working overtime Tuesday evening, Aug. 6, to fight crime in the city.

Armed with 3,500 hot dogs, 100 pounds of popcorn and gallons of brightly-colored snow cone syrup, more than 50 police officers swarmed Elkhart Civic Plaza and Central Park for five hours for the department’s annual “Night Out Against Crime” event.

“This event is a way for the community to get to know police officers in a casual way,” said Sgt. Wayne Bias, head of the department’s Community Affairs Bureau. “Between here (at Civic Plaza) and out on the streets, just about everyone in the department is working today.”

Officers walked around the plaza and ran children’s activities below at Central Park.

Cpl. Scott Garvey sat on the platform in the dunk tank, egging on the children trying to dunk him.

“Aaaaaaaay pitcher pitcher!” he called as a boy stepped up to the line with a yellow ball in hand.

“It was supposed to be a bit sunnier by this point in the day,” Garvey said, pulling himself back onto the platform after a chilly dip in the tank.

Other activities for children included miniature golf, horseshoes, inflatables and a carousel.

They could also get a lesson in dusting and lifting fingerprints from EPD evidence technicians or learn about fire safety in the Elkhart Fire Department’s “Smoke House” simulator.

Assistant Police Chief Laura Koch said the K-9 demonstration is always one of the most popular attractions at the event, showing spectators how the department’s K-9 units are trained and how they do their jobs.

“This is an opportunity for our officers to connect with the community and the youth in particular,” Koch said. “It’s also an opportunity for (attendees) to receive training and information from local agencies.”

Several Elkhart County organizations were on hand distributing information to families, including the Humane Society of Elkhart County, Elkhart General Hospital, Elkhart Public Libraries, the Tolson Community Center and Elkhart County Emergency Management.

The Roberts family of Elkhart has been attending the “Night Out Against Crime” for at least the last three years.

“It lets the kids see the officers in normal life so they’re not scared of them,” Ken Roberts said as 6-year-old Alayna, her mouth stained blue from a snow cone, darted across the plaza to greet a friend.

Mayor Dick Moore commended the Elkhart Police Department for its hard work, both in organizing Tuesday’s event and in protecting the city.

“Across the width and breadth of this city, there is some very good police work going on,” Moore said.