- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
More than 50 Charles County neighborhoods registered to participate in National Night Out and unite community members in raising awareness about the fight against crime in their neighborhoods.
Officer I.S. Bier of the Charles County Sheriff’s Office is the community police officer assigned to Holly Station Townhomes, Acton Village, Tanglewood, Stanford Place and The Woods at Deer Creek. This year was his second participating in NNO, and he spent Tuesday evening at Holly Station’s community pool.
“I like [National Night Out],” said Bier, who has been a community policing officer for two years and with the sheriff’s office for five years. “It’s a good time to get everybody out.”
Bier passed out coupons for free Chick-fil-A sandwichs, pencils, stickers and later glow sticks. He said the night helps him to get to know better the people living in the neighborhoods he is assigned to patrol.
“So I actually get to interact with the people who don’t need me [to arrest or assist them],” Bier said. National Night Out has helped him to understand that people want to help and get involved, he said. The night gives community members an opportunity to talk to police officers.
As has been the policy of Sheriff Rex Coffey (D) and his officers, Bier encourages community members to report suspicious activity.
“If you think it’s suspicious, more than likely we’ll think it is, too,” Bier said.
He recalled that in Acton Village neighbors spotted a boy playing with a lock on a house. Police were called, and the boy was caught “red handed.”
“Being a nosy neighbor has really helped the communities a lot,” Bier said, adding that members of a community live in the neighborhood and are more familiar with what is normal or abnormal for their community.
The people who come to a National Night Out celebration do not want crime in their neighborhood, said Capt. Karl Hense, who also was at Holly Station on Tuesday night.
NNO provides communication between the sheriff’s office and the community. He said if someone is doing something illegal in a neighborhood, the sheriff’s department arrests and evicts that individual from the neighborhood.
“It’s a great event,” Hense said of National Night Out, which he has participated in since he came to the sheriff’s department 26 years ago. He said NNO has “gotten huge across the nation.”
Nicole Perez, Holly Station’s community manager, said the neighborhood, behind Lowe’s on U.S. 301 in Waldorf, celebrates the night every year for residents and children. Every two months, Holly Station holds a community event and has private security.
“If we have problems, we’re quick to alleviate the problem and cooperate with [the sheriff’s office],” Perez said, adding that she has noticed Charles County is a big participant in the nationally celebrated event.
At Holly Station’s pool, residents swam, ate and chatted with neighbors while children played on a moonbounce.
Cathy Savoy said she has lived in the neighborhood for four years, and this year was the second time she attended NNO with her two children. She said it is a time for the community to get together, meet each other and have a good time.
“It brings the community together so they can get to know each other,” said Savoy’s 11-year-old daughter, Mya Savoy.
Mya said she made a new friend at NNO this year. Kaylah Ogletree, 13, her younger sister and her mother, Larae Ogletree, just moved to Holly Station a few weeks ago.
“This is nice. I didn’t know about [NNO] until today,” Larae Ogletree said. She said she and her daughters were going to come to the pool Tuesday night, anyway, and ended up meeting people in their new neighborhood.
In the Dorchester neighborhood off of St. Patrick’s Drive in Waldorf, residents enjoyed popcorn and ice cream, rode rides provided by Fantasy World Entertainment of Prince Frederick, played games and swam in the community pool.
Rashawn Jones has lived in Dorchester for three years, and she brought her nephew to this year’s event because his neighborhood did not participate.
“I actually think that [NNO] has significant importance, and the thing is not a lot of people know what it’s for,” Jones said.
A disc jockey played music, and residents participated in a group dance at the community pool in Lancaster, also off of St. Patrick’s Drive in Waldorf. Food and cotton candy were available throughout the evening.
“It’s just a really great event,” said Lacey Creelman, head manager of Lancaster’s pool. “Everybody comes out and has a real good time.” Creelman, who lives in Indian Head, said she has worked at Lancaster’s pool for three years and for three years before worked at Dorchester’s pool. She has participated in both neighborhoods’ NNO events.
Cary Algood, treasurer of Lancaster’s board of directors and a resident for more than 11 years, said 340 people attended NNO at the community’s pool.
“This is one of our better turnouts,” Algood said. “It gets everyone out together. National Night Out is about community awareness and working with police.”
Algood said he thinks most neighborhoods are aware of the importance of NNO because of the national campaign and the sheriff’s department. He said Coffey has been very involved in Charles County’s participation.
Fire and EMS personnel visited Lancaster’s pool Tuesday night with members of the sheriff’s office.
“They’re all vital to our community and how we thrive,” Algood said.