National Night Out unites first re­spon­ders, res­i­dents

Newark Post - - Front Page - By JOSH SHAN­NON

Three-year-old twins Bradley and Gavin Sor­rentino came to National Night Out dressed for the oc­ca­sion.

Bradley donned a po­lice uni­form, while his brother was wear­ing fire­fighter gear. With their mom, Erica, they de­lighted in watch­ing a demon­stra­tion of the Newark Po­lice Depart­ment K-9 unit. A few min­utes later, Bradley met Ofc. Aaron Olicker, of “Hug a Cop” video fame, and got to check out the SWAT of­fi­cers’ tools.

“They’re big fans of po­lice and fire­fight­ers,” Erica said.

The Sor­renti­nos were three of the hun­dreds of peo­ple who turned out Tues­day night for the sec­ond-an­nual lo­cal ob­ser­vance of National Night Out on Academy Street. Na­tion­wide, more than 16,000 com­mu­ni­ties par­tic­i­pated in the out­reach ef­fort, which be­gan in 1981.

Join­ing forces for the Newark event was the Newark Po­lice Depart­ment, Univer­sity of Delaware Po­lice Depart­ment, Aetna Hose, Hook and Lad­der Co. and the Univer­sity of Delaware Emer­gency Care Unit.

Newark Po­lice Chief Paul Tier­nan said the fes­ti­val is a great way for po­lice to con­nect with res­i­dents, and in light of re­cent ten­sion be­tween po­lice and com­mu­nity mem­bers else­where in the coun­try, took on even more mean­ing this year.

“We’ve been get­ting tremen­dous sup­port the past few weeks, and tonight peo­ple are com­ing up, shak­ing our hands and thank­ing us for our ser­vice,” Tier­nan said. “This is a great way to give back and show ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the sup­port.”

At Tues­day’s event, po­lice of­fi­cers grilled up hot dogs for vis­i­tors, while oth­ers demon­strated SWAT equip­ment, foren­sics tools and the depart­ment’s mo­bile com­mand cen­ter. Mean­while, Aetna let kids climb in­side fire en­gines, and fire­fight­ers per­formed a mock ve­hi­cle ex­tri­ca­tion, us­ing tools to cut the roof off a car like they would at an ac­ci­dent scene.

Aetna As­sis­tant Chief Pa­trick Flem­ing was pleased with the event.

“We got to get out, get in touch with the com­mu­nity and show them what we do and what tools we have to save them if we have to,” Flem­ing said.

James Muzzi, 4, had fun check­ing out the fire en­gines, climb­ing into Aetna’s lad­der truck as well as Res­cue 8, which car­ries the spe­cial­ized equip­ment used when fire­fight­ers re­spond to car ac­ci­dents and other res­cue sit­u­a­tions.

His mom, Stacey, said they came out “to sup­port the com­mu­nity.”

Deanna Hall brought her 2-year-old daugh­ter, Kris­lyn Pate, to the event so she could meet first re­spon­ders up close.

“I wanted her to just get fa­mil­iar with cops and fire­fight­ers in case she needs them,” Hall said.

It took a lit­tle con­vinc­ing, but Kris­lyn even­tu­ally hugged Olicker and posed for a photo.

Sit­ting on a Newark Po­lice Depart­ment mo­tor­cy­cle as Cpl. Pa­trick Craig in­structed him in the proper rid­ing tech­nique, 6-year-old Ryan An­drews said his fa­vorite part of National Night Out was the bounce house, fol­lowed closely by get­ting to meet one of NPD’s four-legged of­fi­cers.

“I saw a po­lice dog,” Ryan said, proudly.

The mo­tor­cy­cles were pop­u­lar with 2-year-old Teddy Nagorski, as well.

“Teddy rode them three times,” his father, Mike, said. He added that the event pro­vided a nice “pos­i­tive way” to in­ter­act with law en­force­ment.

Yolanda Davis wore a smile a mile wide as she tried on the heavy SWAT uni­form.

“I’m en­joy­ing ev­ery­thing,” the Main Tow­ers res­i­dent said. “I’m learn­ing a lot. Po­lice are not that bad.”

But, she said, she won’t be rush­ing to join SWAT any­time soon.

“Maybe if I was like 30 years younger,” Davis said, laugh­ing.

Still, she was hav­ing fun check­ing out the gear.

“I’ll be 70 this year, and I’m still a kid,” she said. “I will never grow up, and I don’t want to.”

Three-year-old twins Gavin and Bradley Sor­rentino meet Ofc. Aaron Olicker.

Kris­lyn Pate, 2, hugs Ofc. Aaron Olicker.

Yolanda Davis tries on the heavy SWAT uni­form.

NEWARK POST PHO­TOS BY JOSH SHAN­NON

James Muzzi, 8, checks out the cab of Aetna Hose Hook and Lad­der Com­pany’s Res­cue 8.

Aetna Capt. Rich Werk­meis­ter demon­strates how fire­fight­ers res­cue an in­jured driver from a car crash.

Ofc. Nate Graber shows off some of the equip­ment he uses with the SWAT unit.

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