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Dickinson police aim to strengthen community relations with sixth annual National Night Out

National Night Out culminates annually on the first Tuesday in August. National Night Out enhances the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement while bringing back a true sense of community. Dickinson Police Department personnel and Stark County Sheriff’s Office highlight the importance of community relations.

Dickinson PD McGruff
Dickinson Police Officers pose for a picture with McGruff during their Skate with a Cop event at the West River Ice Center in March 2022.
Dickinson Press file photo
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DICKINSON – The Dickinson Police Department will host its sixth annual National Night Out at the West River Ice Center from 5 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, August 2 at the West River Ice Center.

Detective Cpl. Samantha Okke, one of the event organizers, shared how community relations events like National Night Out enhances relationships between residents and law enforcement.

After this, read more local law enforcement stories
Toby E. White was arrested in Dickinson after midnight on Sunday, and faces multiple serious charges relating to drugs, theft and firearms.

“National Night Out is an event held across the nation on the first Tuesday of August for the purpose of bringing together police and the community to build relationships. Dickinson PD has been hosting the event on and off for a number of years. We try to bring together first responders and community programs to bring awareness of the resources available in our area,” Okke said. “The event also has live demos from police officers and firefighters as well as a free meal for everyone to enjoy. We have tried to build the event bigger each year and are always looking for new community programs to participate.”
The event has its roots in the western suburbs of Philadelphia, where concerned citizen Matt Peskin spent several years volunteering and writing a newsletter for the Lower Merion Community Watch group in the 1970s. In 1981 Peskin established the National Association of Town Watch, and three years later started a campaign to make the event a widespread annual point of unity.

The Stark County Sheriff’s Office will also be participating in the annual event.

Lt. Eldon Meher noted that the occasion is a longstanding tradition that’s been observed for as long as he’s been with the department and is one that the Sheriff's Office enjoys.

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“We plan on having a booth there with some interactive games for the kids. We'll have some giveaway items, toys and bikes. We're gonna have kind of a carnival theme, much like we did last year,” he said, adding that they’ll also have popcorn and cotton candy.

Meher said that the Sheriff’s department is excited to continue bolstering its positive relationships with the people of Stark County.

“We’re just happy to be able to participate and again, have these very valuable interactions with members of the community. It just enhances our ability to be effective when we have to go out there and do the job that we do. You can't do that effectively if you don't have those relationships built ahead of time,” Meher said. “We’ll have our emotional support canine there, Myria. She’ll get a good introduction to a lot of the community in that setting.”

Jason O’Day is a University of Iowa graduate, with Bachelor’s Degrees in Journalism and Political Science. Before moving to Dickinson in September of 2021, he was a general news reporter at the Creston News Advertiser in rural southwest Iowa. He was born and raised in Davenport, Iowa. With a passion for the outdoors and his Catholic faith, he’s loving life on the Western Edge.
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