HANCOCK COUNTY — For some citizens, the only time they may meet a police officer or firefighter is during a really bad day — a car accident or a house fire, when something has gone wrong.
Local first-responders hope to provide an opportunity to spend time with members of the community outside of those circumstances. Nearly every public safety agency in the county this year is participating in National Night Out, an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie.
Events Tuesday and Wednesday throughout the county will give county residents a chance to meet public safety officials, learn what they do and get comfortable with officers and firefighters over a night of food and fun.
National Night Out has grown across the country since it began 1989, with police and firefighters hosting block parties, festivals, parades, cookouts and various other community events with safety demonstrations and more.
Fortville Police Department officials have planned their National Night Out event for 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at Landmark Park, 223 E. Staat St., Fortville, said Maj. Pat Bratton.
The Fortville event will feature bounce houses, cotton candy machines and barbecue dinners prepared by the Fortville Volunteer Fire Department. In addition, pilots from the St. Vincent StatFlight emergency rescue helicopter service will fly a helicopter into the park at about 5 p.m. Those who attend will be able to see the helicopter up close and speak with pilots and staff, he said.
Wreckers, police cars and more will also be on display.
Cumberland Metropolitan Police Department plans a second event, also held 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, at Cumberland Police Department, 11501 E. Washington St., Cumberland. The event will include food, activities and a bloodhound search demonstration.
Sugar Creek Township Fire Department will put on a live auto extrication demo, added public information officer Tony Bratcher.
Police and firefighters are members of the same team, Bratcher said; Sugar Creek’s firefighters look forward to working alongside officers during the 12th annual event.
From 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department, Greenfield Police Department and Greenfield Fire Territory will team up to host a National Night Out event at the Hancock County 4-H Fairgrounds, 620 N. Apple St.
Greenfield firefighter Corey Breese said overwhelming success from last year’s inaugural Community Night, a cookout in Riley Park, inspired local first-responders to make this year’s event bigger and better.
The number of agencies participating has more than doubled to include many of the area’s smaller fire and police departments and other emergency agencies, he said.
The event is a chance for police and firefighters to interact with the families they serve each day without the stress that often comes with the job, Breese said. Like last year, they’ll offer those who visit free food and snacks.
They’ve also added some attractions.
This year, every child who comes to community night will receive a passport, directing them around the fairgrounds. At each booth they visit, they’ll get a stamp and some school supplies, Breese said. If they visit and get a stamp at every booth, they will leave the fairgrounds with a backpack full of school supplies, he said.
A dunk tank, bounce houses and more promise to keep the little ones busy into the evening, organizers said.
Several events next week aim to bring law enforcement and community members together for a night of family-friendly activities. Here’s a list of what’s coming up:
What: Hancock County Community Night
When: 5 to 9 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Hancock County 4-H Fairgrounds, 620 Apple St., Greenfield
Attractions: National Guard combat challenge, bounce houses, dunk a cop, bicycle raffle, free food, prizes, school supply giveaways
Demonstrations: SWAT, K-9, Greenfield Fire Territory, Students Against Drunk Driving
What: 12th Annual National Night Out
When: 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Cumberland Police Department, 11501 E. Washington St., Cumberland
Attractions: Food, face-painting, discounted dog micro-chipping, soccer, school supply giveaways and more
Demonstrations: Sugar Creek Fire Department auto extrication, bloodhound search demonstration, police displays, texting and driving simulation and more
What: National Night Out
When: 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Landmark Park, 223 E. Staat St., Fortville, IN 46040
Attractions: Free food, bounce houses, live music
Demonstrations: SWAT team, K-9, police squad cars, fire engines and wreckers