Ohio Highway Patrol Trooper Rob Waulk gives a high five to Alden Wenzel, 3, during National Night Out last year in Middletown. This year’s event will take place from 5 to 9 p.m. today, Aug. 1, in Lefferson Park. GREG LYNCH/2016

National Night Out one way for Middletown police, community to connect

National Night Out was started 33 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.

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Lt. David Birk from the Middletown Division of Police said the city’s 17th annual National Night Out is an opportunity for police departments to “give back to the community.”

It also shows residents that police officers are people, too, and the only way to reduce crime is for the officers and the community to form a partnership, he said.

“We can’t curb crime and stuff without the participation of the community,” Birk said Monday afternoon while setting up for the event that takes place from 5 to 9 p.m. today at Lefferson Park.

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In Middletown, Birk said there will be free food and drinks, inflatables for children, police canine demonstrations, face painting, child safety fingerprinting, live entertainment, appearances from Cincinnati Reds mascots Mr. Red and Rosie, coney-eating contests, military equipment on display, booths featuring local civic organizations, petting zoo and a showing of the movie “Sing” on the lawn.

The event is sponsored by the Middletown Division of Police and Gold Star Chili, he added.

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