By Raegan Turner | Staff Writer
Food, fun and fellowship brought students and faculty to Fountain Mall Tuesday night for Baylor’s third annual National Night Out, an evening hosted by the Baylor University Police Department.
Started 35 years ago, National Night Out is an annual nationwide affair aimed at forming relationships between police and the community and educating people about staying safe. People gathered in support of police departments across the country, including 15 locations within the Waco area. The City of Waco’s website encouraged residents on their website to pick up NNO balloons and banners to decorate what they promoted as a night, “…designed to allow neighbors to join together and present a unified force in the fight against crime in the community by hosting or attending block parties, group parties, or Neighborhood Associations.”
Crime prevention officer Scott Curry, who organized this year’s NNO at Baylor, explained how the event came about.
“It started out as a single light switch on your front porch to support police, then it evolved into block parties where the neighborhoods would get together, do barbecues and games, and just fellowship and everything and invite the law enforcement and their resources to their block party,” Curry said.
Curry explained that this focus on community has stayed the central theme of the night, and is an important one in combatting the current division across the nation.
“We’re just trying to bridge that gap between police and public perception and let them know that we’re human beings too; we are very approachable people and if you need us, we’re here for you,” Curry said.
Activities such as fire extinguisher training and a fatal vision course were ongoing throughout the night with the intention of instructing students and providing opportunities to participate in circumstances many wouldn’t normally have the chance to experience.
A cornhole tournament where winners were awarded a trophy and gift-cards and a dunking booth where people could dunk Baylor Police Chief Brad Wigtil were just two of the games the department put on.
After being dunked by many Baylor students and officers alike, Chief Wigtil explained the importance of Baylor’s National Night Out.
“It’s a good way to build relationships with our community, and especially with our residential students. They’re our community. We just want them to get a chance to meet our officers and let our officers meet a lot of the students. Of course, there’s also a lot of fun and there’s also some great information out here for some safety issues, so it’s all good and we love being out here with our students,” Wigtil said.