By Laura Hayes, Senior community reporter
SHREWSBURY – Fire trucks and police cars from Shrewsbury filled the city’s campus on Maple Avenue on August 3, as residents had the opportunity to meet their local first responders as part of National Night Out.
It was a cool, clear evening, and Police Lt. Michael O’Connor said they were lucky it wasn’t raining.
“It seems like a pretty good turnout,” he said. “We weren’t sure what to expect because it’s so new.”
Besides local first responders, there was a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Town Hall and food trucks, which usually meet on Thursdays for Food Truck Night in Shrewsbury.
“It’s kind of a way of letting the community see that we’re here and talking to each other and seeing what we have to offer firsthand,” said O’Connor.
National Night Out is a national event that takes place on the first Tuesday in August.
It is designed to bring the community together with the police department and other local community resources, such as firefighters, paramedics or the highways department, O’Connor said.
A number of local agencies came to National Night Out including the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office, Shrewsbury Parks and Recreation, Shrewsbury Youth and Family Services and the Shrewsbury Fire Department. .
Sure enough, the local kids got a chance to take photos with Sparky the fire dog and sit in police cars and fire trucks.
Others were able to keep reptiles thanks to Shrewsbury Animal Control.
O’Connor, who has worked for the Shrewsbury Police Department for 28 years, said the department had not held this type of community event for “a number of years”, although he recalled that the service had organized a similar event a few years ago.
It was the first time that Shrewsbury Police have held such a national night, he said.
With Police Chief Kevin Anderson in his post starting in 2020, O’Connor said the chief thinks National Night Out is a good idea to kick off community engagement, acknowledging that traditionally the police have been difficult to approach. .
“We just want people to know that’s really not the case,” O’Connor said. “We want to talk to people, listen to people and hear what they have to say.”