Taylorsville Hosts Night Out Against Crime
Firefighters from Unified Fire Authority blare their sirens at Taylorsville’s annual Night Out Against Crime event. –Tori La Rue
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Tifanie Fitzgerald said she knew the Taylorsville Night Out Against Crime was a success when her 6-year-old son Conner reached out and grabbed the hand of a police officer.
“Conner was embarrassed when we pointed out that he was holding the officer’s hand, but I thought it was a huge thing,” Tifanie said. “At the event, my kids could get up close to the firefighters and police and know that the people who are in charge of our safety are safe people.”
Taylorsville’s annual public safety night on Aug. 11 was part of the National Night Out campaign, which intendeds to bring communities together by forming partnerships between residents and police. Tifanie said she believed the 2016 event was especially influential as trust between citizens and law enforcement continues to be a hot topic in the United States.
Children clamored around police cars and fire trucks, took pictures with law enforcement officers and practiced fire drills with members of Unified Fire Authority at the event. Boy Scouts earned merit badges through hands-on activities, and officers and firefighters welcomed questions from participants. A rock climbing wall, child car seat safety checks and K9 demonstrations were new to the annual, event, according to UPD Detective Scott Lloyd.
Adults received educational materials about how to keep their community safe, and many of them told police they wanted to start or improve their neighborhood watch programs.
The number of neighborhood watch programs in the Taylorsville community has doubled since Taylorsville’s first Night Out three years ago, according to Lloyd. Originally, people were opposed to neighborhood watch programs because they thought it was a way to get the residents to do the job of the law enforcement officers, according to Lloyd. Now residents see
vigilant neighborhood watches as important, he added.
“They realize that we are all concerned about the same issues, and if our two groups work together—the community and law enforcement—we can achieve better progress.”
About 250 people, including eight Boy Scout troops, attended the event.
John Harris, a UFA paramedic, said his favorite part about the Night Out Against Crime was answering the children’s questions about what public safety officials do and giving them tours of the fire engines.
“This is really a young man’s job, so if we can get these kids interested in this career now, they’ll be here after the rest of us are all old and gone,” he said.
Colten Fitzgerald, 8, said he doesn’t know if he wants to be a firefighter, but said he’s not embarrassed to be around them anymore.
Two years ago, he and a friend pulled the fire alarm at their daycare while playing. Upon arrival at the daycare, firefighters gave the boys a lecture, and Colton’s mother, Tifanie, made him write an apology letter.
“This was actually his next encounter with police officers, and it was a good one,” Tifanie said of the Night Out Against Crime. “It seemed to really help him with any residual effects he had about that incident.
Each of Tifanie’s six children said they had fun at the safety fair.
“Can we come back here tomorrow night?” Katie Fitzgerald, 10, asked as her mom ushered the children to the car.
Lloyd said he’s grateful there were many children who participated in the Night Out. When children are interested in what police and firefighters are doing and want to help them, they are more likely to avoid crime in the future, he said.