Community members and police officers interacted in the housing areas, at the Balfour Beatty Community Center Office and at the Child, Youth Services Youth Center during National Night Out Aug. 1. At each area attendees watched demonstrations, played games, and enjoyed free food.
"We are trying to get the community together to interact with law enforcement," said Fort Jackson police officer Joseph Al-Shaer, while assisting youths to ride peddle carts while wearing google showing what it feels like to be impaired. "It's basically relationship building."
Law enforcement personnel were at the center interacting with younger children so they "know we are here to help them," said Fort Jackson's Police Officer of the Year. "As opposed to what they see in the media."
"I believe it's extremely important" for officers to interact with the public, he added. "Not only to show them we are part of the community … and we are no different than them, we just have a certain job to do."
Community members like Maggie Lerner found the Night Out helpful in keeping their kids on the right side of the law.
"It helps the kids keep out of trouble and stuff," she said moments after completing a course wearing the drunk googles. "Especially with (the drunk googles) it kind of gives them a view of how it is when someone is drinking and driving."
Across post law enforcement personnel taught children how to be good witnesses, how fingerprinting works, and were giving out bags of back-to-school goodies while the caped crusader made an appearance and military working dogs demonstrated their prowess.
Matthew Ewers, Pierce Terrace 5 mayor, said the Fort Jackson Police Department and Directorate of Emergency Services are doing an excellent job helping the community.
They do a "wonderful job working with the kids every day," he added. "Being a part of that as a mayor, it makes us feel like one whole community instead of a bunch of little departments."