The Woodland Park and Cripple Creek police departments and several other agencies are participating in the “National Night Out” program next Tuesday (Aug. 4).
This is a crime prevention and community relations effort, allowing residents and kids to interact with local police and to speak one-on-one regarding their concerns. The local Night Out gatherings will be held Aug. 4 at the Ute Pass Cultural Center in Woodland Park from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., and in the Cripple Creek Park and Recreation (Henry Hack) facility from 3 to 7 p.m.
According to Woodland Park Police Chief Bob Larson, the national program, which started in 1984, has been tried in previous years with limited attendance in Woodland Park. But for this year, the effort will include many displays and representatives from the WP Police Department, the local ambulance service, fire department, first responders and 911 officials. “We are really trying to make this event a lot more interesting this year,” said Larson, who stated that the effort has focused on different themes in previous years. He stated that several other agencies will be involved other than just the WP Police Department. Larson said residents will get a close look at some of the emergency and 911 plans that law officers have put in place.
Cripple Creek Police officials also are enthused about the National Night Out and have plans for much interaction between the agency and local teens and residents. “We will have a lot of things for kids to do,” said Cripple Creek Police Sergeant Rob Kible, who is helping to coordinate the Night Out gathering in the Creek.
The effort has been quite popular in Cripple Creek in the past. Moreover, it has received strong support by the Gold Belt Communities Build a Generation group, which has developed many programs for young people in the district.
The program is part of a national effort to enhance better relations between local law enforcement and community residents. It is done in towns across America, except for many cities in Texas and Florida, which do the Night Out in October due to the hot August weather. Typically, it occurs throughout American communities on the first Tuesday of August. The activities can range from a mere neighborhood barbecue to a full-blazed city celebration, which occurs in Columbus, Ohio.
And with the image of police nationwide taking a beating due to a number of highly publicized incidents, the National Night Out is becoming a much higher profile event.
Plus, with local concerns mounting over teen drug use, home security, law enforcement transparency, community policing, domestic violence, neighborhood watch programs and the development of more positive activities for young people, the Night Out on Aug. 4 is expected to draw large local crowds. Local law enforcement officials say the gathering has turned into a neighborhood meeting atmosphere, and is designed to take away the perceived shield between residents and police agencies.
For more information about the National Night Out activities, call the Woodland Park Police Department at 719-687-9262 or the Cripple Creek Police Department at 719-689-2655.