By: Jan Engoren Contributing Writer
Last month the City of Delray Beach Police Department participated in its 4th annual National Night Out.
The country-wide event, created in 1984, takes place on the first Tuesday in August to enhance the relationship between residents and law enforcement.
To the musical sounds of Motown and Pharrell Williams, deftly played by the Ft. Lauderdale-based band, Pocket Change, kids enjoyed snow cones, free back-to-school backpacks, bounce houses, cornhole toss, miniature golf games, face painting and climbing walls.
The event helps build stronger, safer communities by taking a stand against crime and drugs and fostering better relationships between officers and the communities they serve.
“We want to get to know the community before they dial 911,” said Assistant Police Chief Javaro Sims, who organized the event in conjunction with Sgt. Gary Ferreri.
“This is in part an effort to humanize the police department,” Sims said. “When our residents call 911, we don’t want that to be the first time we make contact with them.”
He notes that the police department participates in other community outreach events during the year such as CDA Family Day in the Park at Pompey Park, the annual toy drive for the holidays and Shop with a Cop, which provides Christmas toys to kids in need.
They also take part in the criminal justice program at Atlantic High School which culminates in the Explorer Program, a program which builds youth camaraderie, respect and discipline.
“It’s vital to maintain a positive relationship with the community by way of outreach efforts such as this,” Sims said.
More than 38 million people have participated in 16 thousand communities over the past 35 years, according to statistics provided by the national organization.
Volunteer committee members Ron Gilinsky and Joycelyn Patrick, a retired real estate agent, say it’s important to support the police department and its efforts.
“I’m fortunate to give back to the community that has given so much to me,” says Patrick, a 64-year-resident of the city, who also volunteers at the Woman’s Club of Delray Beach.
“All little kids are in awe of policemen and firemen,” Patrick said. “In today’s climate this gives kids a chance to see the police in a more positive light and brings the community together.”
Kids from Westway Towing were dressed up as Spiderman, Ninja Turtles and Ninja firefighters to entertain the crowd.
Pedro Andrade, the general manager at Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza, 115 NE 6 Ave., was on site dispensing 1500 slices of pizza, 800 meatballs and 750 chicken wings.
He says that last year they fed almost 5,000 kids and expect at least as many this year.
Explorer students Elizabeth Stroud, Jared Kozak, both of FAU and Aden Arzate of Village Academy were there with master police officer Peter Sosa.
Sosa says they are always looking to recruit eligible teens between the ages of 15-21. The Explorers are a branch of the Boy Scouts and participate in community events such as traffic stops, ride-alongs, leadership training and public speaking.
Stroud, 18, said, “This is a great opportunity to bring people together. Police put themselves on the line for their community and this is a great thing to see, especially in light of the current climate.”
She received the highest rank in her Criminal Justice Academy at Atlantic High School and is now studying Public Safety Administration at FAU in Boca Raton.
She hopes to go into the military reserves and eventually become a police officer.
“It’s all about protecting and serving, whether it’s my community or my country,” she said.
To learn more about the Explorers, visit: PoliceExplorers@mydelraybeach.com or call 561- 243-7888 x 2510.