Brooklynites came out in droves to visit their local NYPD precincts in celebration of the community for this year’s “National Night Out Against Crime”, with precincts all over the borough participating in the event.
National Night Out was first celebrated in the 1980s as a means to strengthen community relationships with the police as well as educate the public about safety matters.
The event is held every year on the first Tuesday of August and typically includes kid-friendly games and activities, barbecues and educational resources for visitors to learn more about topics like mental healthcare, gun safety and more.
“National Night Out Against Crime isn’t just one night in New York City — it’s a year round thing,” said Mayor Eric Adams on Twitter. “Bringing government, police and community together to keep our streets safe is what we do. We share the responsibility and we share the love of our city.”
National Night Out celebrations were briefly canceled during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, but resumed in 2021 following a year of intense national scrutiny and protests in response to police brutality and increased gun violence throughout Brooklyn.
On Tuesday, Aug. 1, residents in Bushwick came out to visit the 83rd Police Precinct where they were served hotdogs and hamburgers grilled by officers and enjoyed fun activities like face painting and making balloon animals.
Numerous local organizations like the New York Psychotherapy and Counseling Center (NYPCC) were also present at the event, with booths lining the street to offer information to interested visitors.
“We’ve participated in National Night Out for the past couple of years just bringing out awareness and trying to relieve the stigma that mental health has,” said NYPCC representative Selina Lebron on Tuesday. “With mental health, there can be a stigma [and] also sometimes police officers can be seen in a negative light. Night Out provides an opportunity for the community to see the NYPD in such a brighter light, to see that they are here for the community, that they are here not only to solve crimes but to be here for the local residents of Bushwick or for any community at that point.”
Robert Camacho, chair of community board four, echoed this sentiment.
“We need people that’s going to represent us,” said Camacho. “Tonight shows kids that the officers are just like them, they’re their friends, that the precinct is not closed, that the precinct is ours no matter what. So we want to make sure that it’s like a store that if you’ve got business, we want to be a part of that business.”
Over in Bay Ridge, leaders of the 68th Precinct held their gathering outside of the station, a dozen of informational and outreach tables lining a closed-off 65th Street between Third and Fourth avenues. McGruff the Crime Dog patrolled the block, packed full of community members who were reveling in the summer evening sunshine and learning how to be more involved with local law enforcement.
A carousel-style bouncy castle and two police horses held the attention of the youngest in attendance while those slightly older enquired about programs within the precinct such as the Law Enforcement Explorers.
The nearby 72nd Precinct in Sunset Park held their event at the soccer pitches in the nabe’s namesake park. The allure of the soccer goalposts kept many of the kids in attendance busy, as well as a few local cops who took turns taking penalties – not the kind they are used to.
Families with young children made up the majority of the crowd gathered at the 6th Avenue park which boasted two bouncy castles, games, on top of free food and drinks.
Community Council President Tina Ponce praised the event for bringing the community together and reclaiming the public space: “It’s an amazing event for all community members, and it helps to make connections between officers and the people of Sunset Park,” said Price.
Among those honored at Tuesday’s gathering were local businessman Mariano Tapia from Tacos El Bronco for his contributions to the community and precinct over the years. Sergeant Thomas Fletcher was also honored for serving the Sunset Park community for over 12 years and for always “leading by example.”