Police gear up for annual National Night Out event

By: April Lehmbeck | Advertiser Times | Published July 20, 2011

HARPER WOODS — One of the biggest events for family fun in the city is only weeks away, when Johnston Park will be overrun with residents participating in the National Night Out activities.

Every year, police Lt. Tamera Eschendal goes all out planning for this event. With the help of a couple of other officers, she’s planning a number of activities and presentations.

“It’s basically centered around the neighborhoods getting closer, and obviously working in conjunction with the police and building a strong relationship between the neighborhood and the Police Department to combat crime,” said officer Sandra Hernden, who is helping put together this year’s program.

The idea is to let criminals know that the community is united and not afraid, Hernden said.

The event will run from 5-8 p.m. Aug. 2 at Johnston Park, which is located on Beaconsfield, adjacent to the high school.

The National Night Out was launched in the 1980s by the National Association of Town Watch. Programs are held throughout the country each year and are sponsored by the NATW and Target alongside the communities that host individual events.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for communities nationwide to promote police-community partnerships, crime prevention and neighborhood camaraderie,” NATW Executive Director Matt Peskin stated in a press release about this year’s National Night Out. “While the one night is certainly not an answer to crime, drugs and violence, National Night Out does represent the kind of spirit, energy and determination that is helping to make many neighborhoods safer places throughout the year.”

There will be old favorites, such as the Grosse Pointe Police K-9 demonstration, as well as new activities.

“We have the Grosse Pointe/Harper Woods SWAT team coming in,” Hernden said. “We have an obstacle course this year instead of the bounce house, which should be fun.”

Detroit and Inkster motorcycle officers will be on hand, as well. “They just rumble down the street,” Hernden said. “It’s great.”

Several local officials will be in attendance, including Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon and County Executive Robert Ficano.

The city and Target team up for the event each year.

“Target’s been wonderful,” Hernden said, adding that they’ve helped with everything the Police Department asks for when planning this event.

Other businesses take part as well, including Home Depot, which hosts crafts with children this year.

The event also always includes health screening booths and safety information provided by different organizations and businesses.

“We have food and fun and a DJ,” Hernden added.

Harper Woods is inviting residents of the Grosse Pointes out to enjoy the fun.