PITTSFIELD — For the first time in more than a decade, the city will mark National Night Out on Tuesday with a traveling tour of police special units through several city parks, where there will be snacks and giveaways for kids.
National Night Out, established in 1984, has spread to hundreds of communities across the country, with the goal of generating and promoting neighborhood partnerships with police through community events.
This year's celebration came together quickly, said Police Chief Michael Wynn, prompted by a question from Drew Herzig, a member of the Police Advisory and Review Board who asked whether the department would be participating in this year's event. Wynn said the department hadn't been planning on it at the time, but jumped in after he confirmed that the department was eligible to participate in the nationwide campaign.
Wynn, who said it has been well over a decade since the department participated, was involved with bringing National Night Out to Pittsfield while he worked at the Westside Neighborhood Resource Center, where he served as director for two years, ending in 1995.
The program grew through the years to something Wynn said the department was "immensely" proud of, with several events held throughout the city simultaneously. But, eventually, resources for community policing were redirected to other enforcement strategies around 2002, and Wynn said that forced the department to "step away" from participating in National Night Out.
Because of the short planning window this year, there wasn't enough time to plan a block party, so, Wynn said to expect somewhat of a scaled-down event Tuesday.
A "little party convoy" of police officials from the department's motorcycle and off-road units, a police K-9, two mountain bike officers, a patrol supervisor and support staff will start at Clapp Park around 5 p.m., then proceed on to Durant Park, Carrie Bak Park, the Wahconah Park playground, Tucker Park, Dorothy Amos Park, the First Street Common, Springside Park at Rotary Playground, then the skate park and Deming Park.
The officers will spend about 20 to 25 minutes at each park, with snacks and other giveaways on hand for kids, and will provide opportunities to view the department's motor unit, off-road vehicle unit, K-9 unit and traffic unit.
The traveling event is expected to wrap up around 8 p.m.
"After the year plus that we’ve had, it’s refreshing to be able to plan something that isn’t operational or COVID-related and spend some time in the community in a fun and positive way," he said.