Area law enforcement will be hosting National Night Out events on Tuesday to encourage communication between police and the communities they serve.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, some events have been canceled and others scaled down, yet many police departments will be getting creative with plans for prizes, a parade and visits in smaller settings.
In Strasburg, instead of the block party-style event hosted last year, Tuesday will see teams of two or three officers visiting residents where they live, talking with children and handing out goodie bags, three of which will contain a Golden Ticket.
“It’s a ‘Debbie Downer’ that we’re not able to have the big block party,” Chief Wayne Sager, said, adding that Strasburg’s event had been getting bigger each year.
In trying to find unique ways to make it a fun event, he said the department decided on a Willy Wonka-inspired contest.
“The Golden Ticket will get you a prize,” he said.
For about 20 minutes each, officers plan to visit the following neighborhoods:
- Hupp's Ridge at 6 p.m.
- Charles Street Apartments at 6 p.m.
- Jennifer Apartments & Crystal Chase at 6 p.m.
- Oxbow Estates at 6 p.m.
- Forest Glen Apartments at 6:30 p.m.
- Strasburg Assembly of God Church (basketball court) at 6:30 p.m.
- Mountain View Apartments at 6:30 p.m.
- Founders Way at 6:30 p.m.
National Night Out is about “building those relationships with our community,” Sager said. “Now more than ever, those relationships and that trust is of [the] utmost importance to myself and the Strasburg Police Department.”
The department will offer any updates on its Facebook page, facebook.com/StrasburgPDva.
Taking a similar approach, Woodstock police will be visiting area neighborhoods, handing out glow sticks for children and fostering relationships with town residents.
Capt. Chris Baker said he’s hoping for something like the department has offered in the past, “just sort of on a smaller scale.”
Though not planning to visit any specific areas, he said officers will go where their wheels take them.
“We just move as a collective group,” he said. “At least get out there and say hello.”
New Market’s event, postponed from its original date of Aug. 4., will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday.
Police will visit people in their neighborhoods, and areas are still being determined, the town’s website says at newmarketvirginia.com/event/national-night-out-3/.
In Front Royal, police will host a crime and drug prevention event starting at 5 p.m. Tuesday.
Because of COVID-19 restrictions and safety concerns, the block party normally held in the Town Commons has been canceled.
Instead, the residents can meet police in smaller groups around town where social distancing can be practiced.
Opening remarks will take place at 5 p.m. at the Front Royal Police Department, followed by five 20-minute stopping points, where law enforcement partners will interact with the community and hand out goodie bags to the kids.
Stops start at about 5:20 p.m., according to the department’s Facebook page, and will be at Warren County Skate Park, Reesie Jeffries Elementary School, Warren County High School, Marlow Heights Baptist Church and the town gazebo.
Residents are urged to stop by the Police Department to pick up blue light bulbs and thin blue line flags to help show support. Get times and locations on Facebook at https://tinyurl.com/y97hycpy or https://tinyurl.com/ycc3a6n6 and Instagram at https://tinyurl.com/ybdyr3zv.
The Frederick County/Winchester Law Enforcement Foundation will be hosting an event in downtown Winchester, with meet-and-greets from 5 to 5:45 p.m. at Montague United Methodist Church, 6 to 6:45 p.m. at Highland Memorial Presbyterian and 7 to 7:45 p.m. at the Shenandoah Valley Civil War Museum, 20 N. Loudoun St., where attendees can meet police officers, see a K-9 demo and enjoy free ice cream.
Stephens City and Middletown police will be teaming up again this year with the Lord Fairfax Community College Police Department on a modified event that will take them down U.S. 11 in police cruisers.
“This year all we’re really going to do is kind of a tour of town,” said Middletown Police Chief Gary Benedict Jr.
Planning “a slow roll through town ... with our lights on,” he said, adding the state police and Fire Department might also get in on the fun.
Because of the pandemic, events elsewhere in Frederick County, Berryville/Clarke County, and Mount Jackson have been canceled.
“With COVID-19 still present in the community and safety guidelines still in effect we feel that we would risk putting the community in jeopardy along with our younger people,” Mount Jackson Police Chief J.H. Sterner announced on the department’s Facebook page on Sept. 11.
He said he hopes to hold an event again next year.