BY NICOLE BRODZIK AND ADAM QUANDT
On Aug. 1, residents may see a larger police presence in their neighborhoods than they’re used to. But it’s all for a good reason.
National Night Out is a day where police forces from all over the United States head out into their communities for a night of fun and community bonding. Both Orono and Minnetrista police will be out and about that evening visiting parties through the west metro.
“I think, now more than ever, it’s really important for us to have that bonding and community partnership,” Minnetrista Police Chief Paul Falls said. “We want people to know we’re here and we’re here for them.”
Falls and his police officers will be visiting a total of 16 block parties on Aug. 1, with two in St. Bonifacius and 14 in Minnetrista. Like last year, Minnetrista Public Safety will be bringing along police cruisers to show to children and will be pairing up with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Mound Fire Department.
“It’s not just about police,” Falls said. “It’s about public safety and we’re just one part of that. We want to be able to educate people on what we do and how we work together.”
Falls also said that these events help his department, and all police departments, better understand the issues in the communities they serve.
Orono Police Chief Correy Farniok said that the event works to bring neighbors closer together in hopes that they will also work to keep eachother safe. “If you get to know your neighbors a little better, people are more inclined to talk or call police when they see something suspicious,” Farniok said.
He said that getting to know your neighbors forms a type of community watch within the neighborhood.
Orono Police officers will be joining block parties around Orono, along with members of the fire department, representatives from the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office and local politicians.
Farniok added that National Night Out is a great way for residents ask public safety officials any questions they might have.
“Especially in today’s climate, people still have those questions like ‘why do you do what you do?’ which makes this event more important than ever,” Farniok said. “People can ask those questions they might have in a more relaxed setting.”
“People seem to like having us in their neighborhoods, where they live,” Falls said. “It helps us better understand the issues each neighborhood is facing and it makes our jobs a lot easier and helps us do a better job knowing exactly what our residents need from us.”
Falls added that anyone looking to attend a block party in St. Boni or Minnetrista can call the Minnetrista Public Safety office at 952-446-1131 for information on where to go.
Those looking for more information about block parties in the Orono area can call the police department’s main line at 952-249-4700.