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National Night Out shows public safety’s ‘human side’


By Jason A. Smith
Times Correspondent

  Jennifer Landrum of McDonough beamed as her 19-month-old son, Thomas, tried out a Henry County Police motorcycle at this year’s National Night Out.

Nineteen-month-old Thomas Landrum visited with Henry County Police Field Training Officer Bruce LaBier during the county’s annual National Night Out festivities.     Photo by Jason A. Smith

  “We brought him last year, but he was too young to enjoy it,” she said. “We just feel like it’s a good opportunity for him to be around the officers, firefighters, motorcycles and fire trucks.”

  Landrum was among hundreds of local residents who gathered Aug. 5 at Henry Town Center in McDonough for the free event.

  Public-safety workers from the Henry County Police and Fire departments, as well as the Sheriff’s Office and Emergency Management personnel, use the annual occasion as a way to share information with those in attendance about their respective agencies. National Night Out featured demonstrations by the police department’s Criminal Apprehension and Gang Enforcement task force, K-9 officers and the Special Weapons and Tactics team.

  Police Chief Keith Nichols said National Night Out shows residents “the human side” of officers in his department, as well as that of other local public-safety entities.

Demonstrations by local K-9 units were featured in Henry County’s recent National Night Out celebration in McDonough.
                                                      Photo by Jason A. Smith

  “It gives a little better idea of what we do,” he said. “It’s just a chance to reach out to the community, show them what we do, how we do it and the equipment we do it with.”

  Police Field Training Officer Bruce LaBier visited with kids during National Night Out, to give them a glimpse into the Motor Unit where he works, just as he has done for the last several years. LaBier said the event allows him to bridge the gap between the police department and the public.

  “This is a perfect event to do that because you’re able to get on a one-on-one basis with the citizens,” he said.

  Michelle Meredith of McDonough brought her two kids – Autumn, 9, and Gage, 2 – to National Night Out for two reasons. In addition to being a positive environment for the children, she said, the event enables her to demonstrate her admiration for those who work in public safety.

  One such individual is her husband, Chuck Kimbrell, who works as a police officer in Jonesboro.

 “We’re all about supporting our community,” said Meredith. “People focus way too much on negative stuff.”

This year marked the first time at Henry’s National Night Out for Jim Clay of Macon. He said the event is a “good idea” for the community because it encourages more involvement from residents in their local government.

  “Anytime people interact with government, they get a better understanding and better governments,” said Clay. “They make better choices.”

  Precious Thomas of McDonough said she was glad to see people laughing and having a good time during National Night Out. She stopped by the Sheriff’s Office Special Wea-pons and Tactics team booth during the evening’s activities, and soon found herself trying on a vest similar to those worn by team members in the field.

 “It’s heavy, but I can deal with it,” said Thomas confidently. “It’s no biggie.”



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