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National Night Out

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OUTREACH: Story Davis, right, listens intently to a SWAT member while sitting in the back of an armored vehicle Tuesday evening at TPA Park.
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FEEDBACK: Clinton County Sheriff Rich Kelly listens to the concerns of a member of the community Tuesday evening during the National Night Out celebration at TPA Park.
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COMMUNITY: Families line up to visit the many booths attended by community non-profit groups during Tuesday's National Night Out at TPA Park.

By AARON KENNEDY - akennedy@ftimes.com

The Frankfort Police Department joined the Clinton County Sheriff's Office and other local law enforcement agencies in celebrating National Night Out with the community Tuesday evening at TPA Park.

National Night Out Program Coordinator Colleen Moore, who is a systems coordinator for the FPD, says that the event has grown each year since Frankfort began celebrating National Night Out in 2013.

“We have been able to add more people every year. I would say about 600 people who came through,” Moore said. “All of law enforcement seem to enjoy this event. It's an opportunity to interact with families in town with a very positive environment. We don't do that a lot, so this gives us that opportunity.”

A dunk tank sponsored by The Farmers Bank, an on-site broadcast by Shine 99, the Rossville's Lions Club ice cream trailer, food provided by FPD Chaplain Leo Gonzalez’s Primera Iglesia Bautista de Frankfort Church, and SWAT, K-9 and other police vehicles on display all helped add to the festive atmosphere.

There was a bike safety booth sponsored by FOP Lodge #69, and kids' bike helmets were provided by Goodwin Funeral Home. At the Quinton's House booth, kids could make a “Card for a Cop,” which will then be mailed to local law enforcement. Healthy Communities of Clinton County, the Boys and Girls Club, the YMCA, Four County, Frankfort Unified Neighborhoods, the Frankfort Community Public Library, The Salvation Army, Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association, COACH Kids and others were also represented and contributed to the event. Among them was Center Township Trustee Kevin Evans and his staff, who were able to hand out free school supplies to 177 kids.

“It is always a great time,” Evans said. “You get to interact with young kids who are excited to go back to school. It is priceless.

“I think it is a very smart program,” Evans added. “We talk about school safety a lot and making sure that kids are getting the things they need to feel safe at school. Obviously, partnering with law enforcement the night before school begins is a smart way to start the school year. Being able to provide those things that help kids feel upbeat to start the school year helps them start the year successfully and creates a safer school environment and an environment that is ready to learn. That is always what we try to foster in our community – that education is important.”

“I am really thankful that everybody came out, and I really appreciate everybody's support and participation,” Moore said. “We wouldn't be able to do this on this scale if it wasn't for the contribution of some of our community organizations. We wouldn't be able to put this together and offer it for free to the community without their support.

“I think it's really important for the community at large to be able to interact with their law enforcement officers,” Moore added. “It gives (law enforcement officers) an opportunity to interact with the kids with dunk tanks and things like that and be on their level.”

Police Chief Troy Bacon called said that this year's National Night Out was probably one of the largest ones they have had in Frankfort.

“It is one of our most popular community events that we hold It give the community and officers an opportunity to meet each other in an informal way – sharing laughter and high-fives and really establishing those community relations. We look forward to this every year,” Bacon said. “Colleen Moore did an excellent job coordinating with other agencies and community organizations to make it all happen. It is just an amazing event.”

The Frankfort Police Department invites residents of the city to attend its next community meeting from 2-3:30 p.m. Saturday at the Grace Baptist Church at 900 S. Maish Road.

“Community meetings have been the backbone of our community policing and outreach efforts,” Bacon said. “I encourage everyone to attend so we can continue the collaborative efforts of strengthening police and community relationships and problem solve issues that affect our entire community.”