WYANDOTTE COUNTY, Kan. -- Millions of people around the U.S. celebrated National Night Out on Tuesday, including thousands right here in the metro.
The idea behind the nationwide event is to build community-police engagement through block parties, informational displays, games, free food, contests, giveaways, resource tables and hands-on and up-close looks at law enforcement equipment and gear.
“This a great event for the community to see officers not behind them on a traffic stop or dealing with them in a negative way," said Lt. Nathan Mulch with the Liberty Police Department. "There are so many different resources out there in the community that people don’t see.”
That’s why the fire and police departments joined the Clay County Health Department and Sheriff’s Office in Old Liberty Square.
“We come around here and hand them stickers. The firemen hand them hats," Mulch said. "The Sheriff’s Department lets them climb around in their armored vehicle."
"They think it’s cool. They just get to see an officer and hug. A kid and I were playing a game a minute ago with the handcuff ring toss. They thought it was fun.”
Across the state line in Wyandotte County, law enforcement were also making connections with their community.
“Obviously we care about crime and those kinds of things in our neighborhood," local mom Jana Sawyer said. "We’ve got four kids and lots of kids in our neighborhood.”
She and her family have lived in the area for about a year and a half.
“When we moved here, we had a lot of people that were asking us, ‘Why? That’s where things go to die,’" she said. "And we said, ‘Nope. We believe that it doesn’t have to be that way, and we want to see things come to life in KCK.’”
Alonda Harris grew up in KCK and graduated from Wyandotte High School. As social worker, she sees the community from a different perspective.
“My mom still lives here, and I work here. It needs to be protected just like any other community," she said.