National Night Out Has Positive Impact On Police-Community Relationships

A huge crowd turned out for the 10th Annual National Night Out at the Hope Fair Park this evening and the event was a resounding success. National Night Out is a nationwide event which promotes positive relationships between law enforcement and the community. Since the Hope Police Department (HPD) and the Hempstead County Sherriff’s Office (HCSO), along with many other local law enforcement and emergency response organizations, began participating in this community-building campaign ten years ago, it has evolved each year into a bigger, more successful event. This year was no exception .

While the children played games and the crowds mingled, one could see the mix of law enforcement personnel and local citizens visiting and chatting together happily. Many groups were present, representing their organizations proudly, to collaborate with the HPD and the HSCO for National Night Out: Arkansas State Police (ASP), Hope Fire Department (HFD), Pafford Medical Services, Domestic Violence Prevention, Hempstead County 4-H Program, Hope Junior Auxiliary (JA), ASP Auxiliary, Punishers Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club, and William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home National Historic Site. Food was donated by Piggly Wiggly and the Hope Fire Department while ASP Trooper Pinner donated his grill and his time to cook. Assisting with food prep were HCSO’s Becky Medlin and Pafford’s Crystal Gray. Trooper Henley and his wife Beth donated their snow cone machine, where the Hope JA were stationed to make snow cones for the kiddos. The Henley’s also provided their cotton candy machine for the event, where they were stationed most of the night whipping up those fluffy bundles of sugar for children.

So many groups, individuals, and volunteers assisted with the night’s planning, cooking, setting up, and the coordinating of activities. The results were well worth the effort. Children were running around with such enthusiasm, not knowing which of the exciting games to start next: a giant Jenga, a claw machine filled with prizes, an oversized bubble pool, a giant yard pong, and much more. Plus, the law enforcement officers and the emergency response personnel opened up their rigs for the kids to admire and learn about what each service provides the community. Mickey and Minnie Mouse were even on the scene arriving in the HCSO Search and Rescue Humvee. Meanwhile, proud parents looked on with smiles while chatting with the officers and personnel of these law enforcement and emergency response departments.

National Night Out is co-coordinated by HPD’s Angela Gammage and HCSO’s Marla Gullion. Both officers were pleased with tonight’s turnout, especially considering current health and safety concerns by many citizens because of the pandemic. Gammage said, “Tonight has turned out really well. I know many people are scared to come out, which is why we spread out all the activities and are promoting social distancing, but we just want people to enjoy themselves and have a good time. That’s why we team up with HCSO, ASP, and so many other organizations; we want the community and our law enforcement to build those positive relationships, and it’s needed now more than ever.” Gullion agreed by saying, “With everything happening right now, this event has gone better than we could have hoped. I’m very proud the night has been successful and that all these organizations and the people of the community have come together.”

National Night Out is just one of many events planned with law enforcement and local citizens in the effort to promote positive, community growth in Hope and Hempstead County. Tonight’s event can be considered nothing less than successful with the great turnout and the obvious camaraderie between all these organizations and members of the community. Add to that the many kiddos who went home with a full belly and a happy smile, and for some, that is the greatest mark of success one can measure.

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