Wednesday, August 6, 2014 || By Michael Romain
MAYWOOD — More than 400 people converged on Veteran’s Memorial Park just east of the Maywood Police department last night for National Night Out Against Violence.
Since 1984, communities across the United States and Canada have gathered on the first Tuesday of August, from 7pm to 10pm, for the event, which is sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch. The night is designed to advance awareness about law enforcement programs and various anti-crime initiatives, in addition to enhancing the relationship between law enforcement officials and the communities they serve.
Maywood has been celebrating the event annually since 2004. Officer Pirsia Allen, the Maywood Police Department’s community policing officer, said that the event has fostered a greater sense of togetherness and unity between the police and Village residents. He said that the turnout has been higher each year, with this year no exception.
“The event was bigger than last year,” he said. “The community responded to the police and it worked out well. This is all about partnership and the community. The community came out and partnered with us tonight. That’s what it’s all about. It’s about unity.”
The event is also an opportunity for the police department to congregate with the fire department, which came out to support the cause as it does every year. Maywood Fire Chief Craig Bronaugh said that his firemen fed off the crowd’s energy.
“We had favorable weather and a lot of energy from the people out here,” he said. “This is a very positive event and I’m glad it turned out so well.”
Attendees were treated to free food catered by Meal of the Day Cafe in Maywood and entertainment sources that included a bounce house for young children, a high-octane show by Atmosphere of Tumbling, an energetic fitness class that took place on Fred Hampton Way, several dance routines by Maywood Fine Arts dancers and several inspired dance routines by Proviso Baptist Church praise dancers, among many others.
Beneath the leisurely surface, however, there has always been a deeper purpose about Maywood’s version of Night Out. The event has always worked to advertise and raise awareness for the Village’s primary community policing vehicle, the Maywood Alternative Policing Strategies (MAPS) program, which is held in, and with meetings rotating among, one of four different zones each week.
“We come out and we celebrate National Night Out, because we need to step up and take back our community,” said Maywood Trustee Cheryl Ealey-Cross, who was a MAPS facilitator for Zone 3 when the police first implemented National Night Out.
“The only way we can do that is if citizens come out and participate and share their concerns and then pitch in to help us make the change. It takes one block at a time. We need to bring blocks together and talk about different cultures on that block so that we’re better educated about how we do things. We just have to learn what our differences are and respect them.”
Last night might be considered a step in that direction. Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins thought so.
“It makes you feel good to see that the people think enough of this to come out,” she said. “They don’t have to be here, but the fact that they’ve come is uplifting. We appreciate Chief Talley and his team for making the event happen.”
As for Maywood Police Chief Valdimir Talley, National Night Out constitutes just another layer in his goal to build up the community he’s been tasked with protecting.
“The community bonded, people enjoyed themselves and that’s what I wanted to see,” said Maywood Police Chief Valdimir Talley. “We’re going to have a community that grows together and builds together. We’re going to get this community back up to where to where it was.” VFP