Middletown Police Chief Rodney Muterspaw said he was pleased with the turn out and felt this year’s National Night Out was very important because it allowed people in the community and law enforcement to show that working together is better than seeing violence grow.
“Every year this gets bigger and bigger and we have been doing this for 15 years,” Muterspaw said. “This is a diverse crowd that is out here and this is what the world is supposed to look like — that is why we do this in Middletown. We do other things over the course of year as well, but this is our big event.”
New Life Church Associate Pastor Mike Thompson was at the event, and he felt that it gave the community and police an opportunity to develop a stronger relationship.
“This is a great opportunity for us to come together and embrace one another and love one another,” he said, as he motioned to several groups of children playing together. “We needed this with all that is going on in the world.”
National Night out was started 32 years ago in an effort to to build partnerships and foster better relationships between communities and police in order to help combat crime and promote community policing.
The event traditionally is scheduled for the first Tuesday of August and draws more than 37 million people from more than 10,000 communities across North America, according to the National Night Out organization.
Sgt. David Birk of the Middletown Police Dept. said “it is just a way for us to give back to the community. We always have support from the community and that is why we do this.”
Hatem Shteiwi, owner of the Gold Star Chili restaurant in Middletown, had his booth set up and said he was planning to give away as many as 5,000 free hot dogs to the crowd.
“This is the second year we have done this and we are making them as fast as we can,” he said, while watching his crew deal out the hot dogs to the longest line at the event. “But the cause is worth the trouble and we are happy to be a part of this community and help out for the people and the police.”