At a time when much of our national dialogue involves police, specifically the police department’s relations with the community they serve, the annual National Night Out which is designed to generate neighborhood support and participation in crime prevention efforts and to enhance police and community relations took on an increased importance this year.
Two National Night Out events were held in Germantown to support community relations between the 5th District – Germantown and the community the police from D5 serve.
“The event is great for two reasons,” said 5th District Commander Captain David Gillespie, “it is a fantastic opportunity for the community to come outside and get to know one another and spend time with each other and the police, in an environment that is non-confrontational. And this is symbolic of communities stepping forward and attempting to take back their own communities and preventing crime and establish relationships with the police department.”
Germantown Pulse caught up with Gillespie, and many of the upper-level officers from the 5th District at the event held at The Hamptons community at 19757 Crystal Rock Drive. The event featured members of the MCPD K-9 unit, as well as motorcycle officers, and the MCPD Emergency Services unit, as well as members of the Maryland-National Capitol Parks Police.
As the event at Crystal Rock Drive began to wind down, many officers and police brass moved down to the second event which was held in the Germantown Park Home Owners Association at 18400 Cinnamon Drive. At that location, police officers were joined by units from Montgomery County Fire Rescue Services as residents came together to interact with law enforcement officers.
“We have had a lot of good community discussions about problems within the community in terms of what is not working and what is working,” said Officer Marcus Dixon, who is the 5th District Community Liaison Officer. “They appreciate the community policing that we put forth in Montgomery County. It is refreshing to me personally, to be able to come out to the community and have conversations with people — just to have conversations. There is no malice, no judging. It is just people interacting trying to come together to better the whole community.”
Indeed, according to Lieutenant Jim Brown the events allowed police and members of the community to make important connections which might not have been made had the event not taken place. “We have already established about five relationships with our District Community Action Team and some neighbors that are willing to talk to us about some of the things that they see happening in their community,” said Brown.
While the national dialogue may be about strained relations with police and the communities they are sworn to protect, Gillespie says the relationship between officers in Germantown and the community as a whole is not as strained as in other places around the nation.
“People want to get along, and they are tired of some of the issues that are going on in their community,” said Gillespie. “We see a lot of support from community members. We are seeing a great deal of support at the Germantown station. On a regular basis, people are coming into the station a dropping off food, or letters, or notes from students and families alike supporting our officers. It has really been a fantastic show of support for the police department by so many members of our community that often may not say a whole lot. With everything that has been going on around the country, I think it has sparked people to want to get involved and show their support for law enforcement.”
Top: Montgomery County Police Department K-9 officers were on hand at the National Night Out event held at The Hamptons community on Crystal Rock Drive on Tuesday night.
Next: MCPD Emergency Services Unit was at the Crystal Rock Drive event allowing residents and citizens to inspect. Many National Night Out events also had units from Montgomery County Fire Rescue Services for residents inspect and ask questions of the personnel.
Next: 5th District Commander Captain Gillespie, and many of the 5th District command staff were at the National Night Out events held in Germantown on Tuesday night.
Photos by Germantown Pulse.