National Night Out brings residents closer to police

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MAPLEWOOD, NJ — Residents headed to DeHart Park to celebrate National Night Out with the Maplewood Police Department and community organizations on Tuesday, Aug. 6, participating in crafts and playing on the fields until after the sun went down. The national event, which was founded in the 1980s, is held with the goal of neighbors getting to know one another and police departments working closely with the community. In Maplewood, the event was hosted by the Community Service Bureau.

“The key is to build a relationship with the community,” Detective Sgt. Michael Palmerezzi, head of the bureau, said in an interview with the News-Record at the event. “The key is to have everyone come out and stay involved.”

Chief Jimmy DeVaul said the department would discuss what worked for National Night Out and what didn’t, in an effort to continue to improve the relationship between local police and residents. He wants as many people to attend the event as possible, donating their time, rather than money, for it.

“We invite everyone,” DeVaul said in an interview with the News-Record at the event. “It’s great to donate money, but we want them to come out and be here.”

National Night Out started by asking people to turn their porch lights on and sit in front of their homes to talk to neighbors, and Palmerezzi said in the last seven years since he’s been organizing the festivities, it’s grown large enough to be held in parks.

“We build relationships,” he said. “It’s about bringing everyone together.”

Photos by Amanda Valentovic