FRONT ROYAL — It’s a night intended to bring law enforcement and the community together to show they are working as one to prevent crime.
National Night Out was held throughout the country Tuesday, as it always is on the first Tuesday in August.
In Front Royal, the COVID-19 pandemic altered last year’s festivities to more of a drive-by parade-type event. This year’s Night Out was a return to normal with live music, information booths and more interaction between the public and the police.
“It’s nice that Front Royal does these kind of events, even with this whole pandemic going on,” said James Langley, who attended along with his wife Anna and their two children, Alexander, 3, and Roman, 1. “But as long as it’s been going on, a little bit of normalcy is really good for the soul.”
Langley also said that the event brings law enforcement personnel down to a more relatable level rather than such an authoritative one.
“I’m a big backer of the blue...” Langley said. “I don’t know how many people are out here for that reason, versus just coming out for a community event. But being able to get these guys and see they’re just people. They’re walking around, talking and smiling and playing with the kids.”
More than 40 spaces were reserved for organizations — including the Warren County Sheriff’s Office, the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail, the Virginia Department of Transportation, Samuels Public Library, support groups, and some businesses — to share information.
Eighties and 90s rock hits were covered by the five-member band Raised on Analog that played from the Gazebo on Main Street. The music drew people of all ages out to the dance floor on the closed-down street.
Master Police Officer Tony Clingerman gave a demonstration of “bite work” by his K-9 partner Bosco, who was recently trained to help patrol units after previously being trained in narcotics detection.
Detective Tony Smith set up a drunk driving demonstration that allowed people to drive a golf cart while they wore goggles that imitated the vision changes someone would go through at different levels of blood-alcohol concentration.
Capt. Crystal Cline, who organized the event, thought everything went well throughout the evening, particularly with all the different criminal justice agencies coming out to talk to the community.
“I am completely ecstatic with this turnout,” she said, while taking a moment to take a picture with two girls who were excited to see a female police officer. “After COVID, the pandemic, to see the community come out and support law enforcement, support the cause, I think it’s phenomenal.”
Town and county resident have a strong support for their law enforcement members, Cline said, which has continued even when many people throughout the country during the past year called for police reform.
“This proves it in my mind,” Cline said. “To all come together, to be able to do this, I think is phenomenal.”
Warren County Sheriff Mark Butler, who took over the position in January 2020, appreciated Tuesday’s event, while adding that he would like to see his office contribute a touring component — something last year’s style — to the festivities. That way, community members who may not be able to make it out to the event can be reached, he said.
He’d also like to have a way to have public works department employees recognized.
William Huck, co-owner of C & C Frozen Treats, who was bustin’ out moves on the dance floor most of the evening, spoke to the crowd thanking Cline for putting on the event and all the volunteers involved.
“We love you, we pray for you every day...” Huck said, also giving thanks to the town and community for coming out. “That’s what this night was about, is our community coming together, we love you.”
Several law enforcement agencies, including the Strasburg, Woodstock, Mount Jackson and New Market police departments, in Shenandoah County held their own National Night Out events on Tuesday as well.