Barney Riesbeck, a State Farm agent, set up a booth Tuesday night at Middletown’s National Night Out.
It was his first time attending the event, and it didn’t take him long to understand the purpose of the night that was held at Lefferson Park and Berachah Church.
“The whole message is: You don’t want to be afraid of police officers,” Riesbeck said. “It’s a cultural issue. When you’re a little kid, if you see a police officer, will you run or wave? That starts at a very, very early age. You bring your kids here and they see that they won’t be arrested. (Police) are not bad.”
Children and their parents packed the grassy area between the park and the church under threatening skies. The crowd was estimated at 5,000, and Gold Star Chili at Engle’s Corner, one of the major sponsors, gave away 4,500 hot dogs.
Numerous Middletown area non-profit agencies and businesses had booths set up, and there were representatives and equipment from the police and fire departments. There was entertainment, slides, a hot dog eating contest and a fly-in by Miami Valley Hospital’s CareFlight helicopter.