MASSENA - Strength in numbers is key to solving Massenas public safety problems, according to Police Chief Timmy J. Currier.
Tuesday evening, a crowd of area families descended upon Veterans Memorial Park, unified against crime and quality-of-life issues plaguing the village, for Massenas third annual National Night Out.
Solutions dont just come from me. They come from private citizens who are facing these problems, Mr. Currier said. You get people involved and you get good answers.
The nationwide event, held in over 15,000 communities across the country in 2011 and in its 29th year, allows residents to connect with each other and meet police and first responders. Children and families watched a K-9 demonstration, learned about fire safety and crime prevention and had a chance to sit inside a police car.
Informational booths, emergency equipment displays and demonstrations taught children lessons on crime and drug prevention. The Masons held their Safety ID program, which involves photographing and fingerprinting children to aid in the safe recovery of a lost of missing child.
Community engagement is necessary to deter crime in Massena, according to Richard W. Cook, Deputy Coordinator for Massena Neighborhood Watch, which sponsored the event. National Night Out is meant to teach the public how to become involved.
All the resources are there. They just have to reach out and be a part of it, Mr. Cook said. We just really want to encourage the community to be a community.
When residents meet each other and law enforcement, they can better address problems like the vandalism which has recently occurred in Massenas parks, according to Supervisor Joseph D. Gray, who spoke at the event along with Mayor James F. Hidy.
Its stupid. Its foolish. It doesnt accomplish anything and it wastes a lot of money, Mr. Gray said of the vandalism. If we all keep our eyes open, it isnt too hard to figure out whos doing this stuff.
The police and neighborhood watch cant be everywhere. Weve got citizens everywhere, Mr. Gray said.
Mary R. Santimaw of Massena brought her six-year-old daughter, Arianna, to the event.
It makes the community aware of all the different things the police force does, the fire department does, what theyre trying to do to make the community safe, she said.
Odena A. Boice appreciated the opportunity her seven-year-old daughter, Brooke, had to meet with village police. Children need to learn the police are there to help, she said.
If they were lost, if they were in danger, theyre not so apprehensive about approaching a cop, she said.
The Ogdensburg Boys and Girls Club sponsored some of the childrens games. A steering committee will begin discussing the feasibility of a Massena Boys and Girls Club as soon as next month.
Massena is exploring a club aimed at keeping the villages youngsters out of trouble by offering more after school activities, Mr. Currier said. Neighborhood Watch raffled off a security system donated by Alltech Integrations Tuesday night as one of the first fundraisers for a possible club.
Were just starting now to raise money and try to get it off the ground, Mr. Cook said.