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Wednesday, August 7, 2019

First responders build trust with the community at National Night Out events

Police officers give children snap bracelets and cups at the National Night Out gathering at the Lafayette Village playground. 
National Night Out events in dozens of neighborhoods throughout the Annandale/Mason District area last night brought residents, police officers, and firefighters together to build trust and establish positive relationships.

Community associations and HOAs held cookouts, potlucks, and ice cream socials at playgrounds, community pools, and cul de sacs.

Mason District Police Commander Capt. Brooke Wright chats with residents of Wynfield.
An NNO event hosted by the Annandale Chamber of Commerce at the Annandale Shopping Center featured balloons, face painting, raffles, a martial arts demonstration, and displays from local businesses and organizations, including Crescendo Studios, Burke & Herbert bank, Mathnasium, Artisans United Craft Gallery, and others.

A National Night Out celebration at Annandale Shopping Center. 
It’s important for police officers to get to know local residents so “they will trust us and will come to us when they need help,” said Capt. Brooke Wright, commander of the Mason Police District, at a “conversations and cupcakes with a cop” event hosted by the Wynfield community in Annandale.

At an NNO gathering at Lafayette Village with a moon bounce and snow cones, PFC Matt Wolff of the neighborhood patrol unit at the Mason Police Station, said these events are important for “building relationships with the public and making communities better places to live.”

Left to right: Judy Shapleigh, Debi McQueen, Shirley Kidwell, and Jennifer Flint dish out ice cream at a National Night Out event at Sleepy Hollow United Methodist Church. 
When people trust the police, they are more likely to come forward with information about suspects. At the several NNO events Wolff visited on Aug. 6, people told him about vehicle break-ins, trespassing incidents, suspected drug deals, and suspicious people in their neighborhood.

Kids explore an ambulance at Lake Barcroft's National Night Out event on the beach.
EMT Dave Presson, the vice president of the Bailey’s Crossroads Volunteer Fire Department handed out fire hats to children and let them explore an ambulance at an NNO event at Lake Barcroft that also featured a moon bounce and food trucks.

Left to right: Amy K, Selena W., and Vin C. of the Annandale Volunteer Fire Department in front of the AVFD canteen at the Annandale Shopping Center. 
“That lets us dispel some of the fear,” Presson says. “Children sometimes hide under a bed during a fire when they see us in their home with all our equipment trying find them. And when they get to see and touch the medical equipment in the ambulance, they won’t be so afraid at the doctor’s office.”

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