Charlestown celebrates National Night Out
— Residents, local law enforcement officers and first responders came together on Tuesday night to participate in the town’s first official National Night Out in several years.
The nationwide event is held annually on the first Tuesday in August and promotes police and community relationships. Other towns in the county, including Elkton, North East, Perryville and Rising Sun, also held National Night Out events of their own.
While Charlestown has held a similar event called Open House, it has not had an official National Night Out event for several years and Renee Capano, town commissioner president, said she’s happy the event was brought back this year.
“It gets the community out,” she said. “Basically, we just want to promote unity and become aware (that) the sheriff’s office and fire company are here.”
The previously-held Open House event, which had a similar premise, was hosted by the fire department but generally did not occur at the same time as National Night Out because of firefighter availability, said Thomas Bicking, assistant chief with
Alex Strong, 20, Crystal Strong, Holden Strong, 17, Kai Strong, 3 and Brooke Strong, 8, stand in front of one of Charlestown’s Fire Company’s ambulances Tuesday night.
the Charlestown Fire Company, Station 5.
But Bicking said the fire department is all about public relationships and this event is another outlet to build on those relationships.
“It’s great,” he said. “We love that, we encourage it.”
A firetruck demonstration scheduled to show people how far the ladder on top of the truck can extend was canceled due to technical difficulties, Bicking said. The plan was to raise the ladder up and extend to the right so it would touch down on Black Avenue, Bicking added.
Sheriff Scott Adams said the event allows people to meet law enforcement and
interact with each other. He said the event allows people to put their guards down and feel more comfortable talking to law enforcement.
“We feel a lot of love and support,” he said.
Commissioner Vice President Mary Carol Durange said she tried to have a National Night Out event last year, but was unable to do so. However, this year, she and Capano started the planning process early and were able to make it happen.
During the event, a K9 demonstration was held by the sheriff’s office. Cpl. Michael Kalinsky talked about the K9 unit and then Ares, a German Shepherd K9 officer,
demonstrated how he detects drugs in a vehicle and helps his partner, Dfc. Joseph Cunningham, when a perpetrator is trying to flee.
Cpl. Jonathon Pristash, also with the K9 unit, played the role of the perpetrator during the demonstration. The demonstration didn’t just showcase Ares showing off his tactical moves, but also included Roscoe, a Labrador retriever K9 officer, having a meet and greet with the audience.
Olivia Patterson, 7, saw her first K9 demonstration on Tuesday. “It’s really good,” she said. Patterson said she thought it was “cool” when Ares pulled Pristash out of the truck during the show. Although, her favorite part was petting Roscoe because that was the second dog she’s ever petted.
Olivia’s mother, Emily Patterson, said her husband is a member of the town’s fire company.
“I think it’s good to get out and see what’s going on in the community,” she said.
Thomas Bickings’ wife, Karen, said she always comes out and supports the fire company’s events.She said she enjoyed the demonstration and learned a few facts about the dogs.
“I learned about the dogs and that charities are working to get the dogs vests,” she said.
Like the community members, the first responders also felt the event was a good way to build and strengthen relationships with the communities they serve.
Volunteer firefighter Craig Cyler said the event gave the community an opportunity to see what the firefighters do and how they interact with law enforcement.
Durange, the commissioner vice president, is already thinking about additional activities for children for next year’s event. She hopes to add fingerprint scanning and a chance for children to practice what to do if they make a 911 call.
Olivia Patterson, 7, pets Cecil County Sheriff Office’s K9 Roscoe, who is handled by Dfc. Michael Thomas, after the K9 demonstration held during National Night Out on Tuesday night.