By Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
The mayors and police officers from both Kentwood and Wyoming kicked off National Night Out activities in the wee hours of the morning at Consumers Energy, 4000 Clay Ave. SW.
Wyoming Mayor Jack Poll and Kentwood Mayor Stephen Kepley were joined by officials from Rockford, Walker, and Grand Rapids at the Consumers Energy location for the annual reading of the official National Night Out proclamation which all the participating communities’ governing boards have approved.
Established in 1984 with funding from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, National Night Out marks its 33rd year. The event’s goals are to heighten crime prevention awareness; generate support for, and participation in, local anti-crime programs; strengthen neighborhood spirit and police community partnerships and send a message to criminals letting them know that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.
“This is an opportunity for people to get to know their neighbors,” said Wyoming Police Chief James Carmody. “When I was young, your community and the people you knew were your neighbors as people spent time on the front porch.”
Today, people are more transient with individuals and families moving in and out of a community on a regular basis. Neighborhood groups are still the main “eyes and ears” of a community, Carmody said adding that Neighborhood Watch groups are helpful in preventing crime before it even happens.
National Night Out is administered by the National Association of Town Watch. The National Association of Town Watch officials have indicated that the 2016 National Night Out event could be the largest ever, involving about 38.3 million people in more than 16,700 communities from all 50 states, U.S. territories, Canadian cities and military bases around the world.
For 22 consecutive years, Consumers Energy has been recognized by the National Association of Town Watch as the recipient of the National Electric Utility Award.
The Wyoming Consumers Energy location has served as the early morning kick-off to the local activities with police cars from various municipalities on hand as early as 5 a.m. Two large Consumers Energy trucks also were on site with buckets extended above U.S. 131.
“We appreciate the support we receive from our cities and law enforcement agencies not only for this annual event, but during every day of the year,” said Guy Packard Consumers Energy vice president of electric operations. “We feel it’s very important to show our appreciation of police officers across our state.”