MERIDEN — The police department and the council of neighborhoods will host a scaled-down version of National Night Out next month.
The event, which is usually held in August at Hubbard Park, was cancelled earlier this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The event is now scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 6 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the courtyard in front of the police station.
The new date is the national rescheduling date for all National Night Out events, Holly Wills, president of the Council of Neighborhoods said Thursday. She said the event will be much smaller than normal, but organizers felt it was important to recognize police, fire and emergency medical personnel this year.
“This year is going to be very much more low key,” Wills said. “We thought it was important to show support for our police officers, fire and EMS personnel that work so hard in our community.”
Wills said there will be social distancing and masks are required. They will be keeping an eye on the crowd size to make sure they don’t go over the maximum of 100 people allowed. She noted they expect a much lower attendance number than the 4,000 to 5,000 that normally attend.
There will be an opening ceremony with remarks from Mayor Kevin Scarpati and Police Chief Roberto Rosado. There will also be a DJ and a projector showing pictures from last year’s event, Wills said.
City Councilor David Lowell, who is also executive vice president and chief operating officer of Hunter's Ambulance Service, said the city has always done a great job with its National Night Out event, which he said has been well attended in the past.
Lowell said it is “critical” for first responders to continuously engage with the public, especially youth.
He said the community has a strong relationship with its police and other first responders.
“We can’t take that for granted. Keeping that relationship is always a work in progress,” Lowell said.
“What you see on the news in some communities across the country doesn’t reflect what we have here in this community,” he said, acknowledging ongoing protests nationwide decrying police brutality. Those protests have been spurred by the deaths of unarmed Black men and women in communities including Minneapolis, Minnesota and Louisville, Kentucky earlier this year.
Lowell commended police, noting recent arrests in particular that have helped take weapons and “people with bad intentions” off the street. Those arrests occurred following a summer that saw an increase in gun-related incidents.
“Our community is not immune to violence and we should never think that we are,” Lowell said. “And we should always act in a manner that discourages it first of all and build relationships which serve to discourage it. I think by and large we do that.”