For 30 years the City of Pittsburgh has joined other communities across the country in celebrating National Night Out Against Crime, and this year the city is expanding its activities to get residents involved in their neighborhoods to make them safer and help deter crime.
“National Night Out started as the nation’s night out against crime, an opportunity for neighbors to get together, to know each other, to help each other out,” says Liz Style, coordinator for the Department of Public Safety's "Safer Together" outreach program.
This year's Night Out is Tuesday from 5:00-8:00 pm. According to Style, Pittsburgh has celebrated National Night Out since its inception in 1984 by holding events with local police.
"What we've done this year is to expand that beyond the police to include all of our public safety efforts--fire, EMS, emergency management, animal control, as well as the Bureau of Building Inspection,” Style said.
The 2014 National Night Out Against Crime got an early start in Pittsburgh last week with a kickoff event in Market Square.
The "Safer Together" outreach program teamed with the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership’s weekly "Kids Play" event to create a fun and educational morning in which children, parents, and guardians could learn more about Pittsburgh’s public safety resources.
Emergency responders, public safety vehicles, informational tents, and activity tables filled Market Square. Style explained this kickoff event was meant to draw attention to the Night Out, which will be celebrated in many neighborhoods throughout Pittsburgh and across the country.
Kids had the opportunity to meet firefighters, police officers, and other personnel. McGruff the Crime Dog character walked around greeting children, and a police car was parked in the middle of Market Square with its lights flashing.
EMS Division Chief Robert Farrow gave children tours of an ambulance and handed out coloring books and Junior Paramedic Badges.
“I think it helps as far as awareness,” Farrow said. “The younger kids enjoy the handouts more than anything else, but the parents and guardians get a better understanding of what we’re about and what we’re able to provide in an emergency and how to access us just in case they do have a medical emergency.”
Allen Rhodes came to Kids Play with his mom and three younger siblings. He was impressed with all the “cool stuff” that was available for him to do. “I like the fire truck the most, because I got to sit in it, and then it was really fun.”
More information about the National Night Out and events in your neighborhoods can be found at the City of Pittsburgh’s website.