Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan K9 Officer Phil Halladay of the Snellville Police Department and Dutch Shepherd Duko interact with attendees of the "National Night Out Against Crime" at the Snellville Towne Green on Tuesday. The event included safety tips, demonstrations, emergency vehicles and a chance to interact with local officers.
SNELLVILLE -- Most people who fought the rain to make it out to Snellville's "National Night Out Against Crime" event Tuesday night seemed to enjoy it.
But 10-year-old Gregory Jackson was especially impressed, particularly after getting to sit in the driver's seat of a Snellville Police Department squad car.
"I look at it like this," Jackson said, glasses sliding down his nose. "That's the most coolest and the most amazing police car I ever sat in before."
The event on Snellville's Towne Green was one of thousands across the country Tuesday, as police departments and community groups got together to continue the "National Night Out" tradition. With offerings like K9 demonstrations, a fake traffic stop and self defense tips, the goal is "for citizens to come out and interact with out police in a really friendly environment," said Mary Fergus, president of the Snellville Citizen Police Academy Alumni Association.
Even a bank (for identity fraud tips) and a landscaping company (for tips on how to creatively deter criminals) were present Tuesday.
"It's so important to try and forge that relationship between the safety force and our community," said Tom Martin, the team coordinator for Snellville's night. "The whole idea is to make sure people get the message that we aim to keep the community safe, that the community is a safe place to live."
The event, which was started nationally in 1984, has become a big deal in a few Gwinnett cities. Lilburn and Norcross also hosted National Night Out festivals Tuesday, both ripe with demos and safety tips.
An estimated 15,000 communities in the United States participated Tuesday.
Lilburn's event was co-sponsored by the police department and SafetySmart Lilburn.
"The executive board of (SafetySmart Lilburn) have put scores of hours into putting this event together this year," Lilburn Police Chief Bruce Hedley said.
Visitor Mirian Jackson raved about the evening, even if it started out a little wet.
"(It's good) to know that the police officers are here and they're active in the community, and they're close and they're friendly," Jackson said. "We enjoyed ourselves. Even though it rained we just stuck with it."