The Springfield Police Division hosted its annual National Night Out event Tuesday evening as part of ongoing community policing efforts aimed at reducing crime.
This year, the event came hours after a shooting in the city that left one person seriously injured.
Police departments hosted National Night Out events across the country Tuesday. It’s a nationwide community policing initiative designed to connect families with their local law enforcement.
In Springfield, more than 1,000 people turn out for the event each year, according to Sgt. Tom Selner.
For 8-year-old Allison, it was a night to spend time with her friends.
“She loves to go to the police department and get them anything they want,” said her mother, Sara Truman.
“I’m friends with the cops,” Allison said.
The event brings police and the public together at a time of year when there’s typically a spike in crime. Just hours earlier Tuesday afternoon, officers responded to a shooting on Homeview Avenue.
“We can’t solve these crimes by ourselves,” Sgt. Selner said. “We have to work together as a community and and as a police department.”
That’s why Springfield police are working to strengthen that relationship through community policing, Sgt. Selner said.
In June, the Springfield Police Division brought back its Safe Streets Task Force, which helps prevent gun and drug crimes and make neighborhoods safer, Sgt. Selner explained. The task force has already made an impact in preventing violent crime, but change takes time and a two-sided effort, he added.
“You see all of these other communities having the same amount of violence that we’re having,” Selner said. “We’ve got to constantly strive to work together to make our violence and all our crimes in our city decrease.”
People we spoke with said they believe law enforcement and the community coming together benefits the entire city.
“I think it’s wonderful that the police officers are out here to support us,” said Shirley Harris, who brought her grandchildren to the event.
“I want her not to be afraid of police,” Truman said of her daughter. “I want her to know that they’re always there for you.”
Police are hoping to have the Safe Streets Task Force in place all year round, Sgt. Selner said.