SPRINGFIELD, Ohio (WDTN) — Tuesday night marked a special occasion to help bridge together community members with local police. National Night Out enhances the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement while bringing back a true sense of community. 

However, this year’s National Night Out feels different in the Miami Valley. Clark County Deputy Matthew Yates was buried Monday after being killed in the line of duty. Yates’ cruiser has since been moved, but it stood in the middle of Springfield’s National Night Out, which Springfield police said is exactly where Yates would’ve been anyways – in the heart of community events.

“Matt was huge in this community, he cared for Clark County and Springfield, he was involved in promoting the positive image of law enforcement and what better way to honor him,” said Springfield Police Capt. Allison Elliott.

Law enforcement, fire, EMS and more honored Deputy Matthew Yates during National Night Out, an event Capt. Elliott said he would’ve been a huge part of it. Vandalia police echoed Springfield, saying Deputy Yates wasn’t just a part of Clark County’s community but was invested in the Miami Valley. Vandalia’s Crime Prevention Officer Andrew Wehner hopes the National Night Out gives first responders a fighting chance to be seen as loving neighbors.

“At the end of the day, we’re all human, under this uniform we are just the same as everyone else, we all have families,” said Officer Wehner. “This to me is a job but it’s also a part of my life and we want people to know that we are normal people and to connect with them, do the best we can, treat them like we’d like to be treated.”

Springfield police said it takes the entire community and law enforcement to form a real partnership, but truthfully, all it took was someone like Deputy Yates.

“This is a perfect night to honor Matt and continue what he would want us doing, which is building that positive relationship,” said Capt. Elliott.

Although Yates’ cruiser has moved, if you still want to drop off flowers or memoirs to honor him, the Clark County Sheriff’s Office said their doors are always open.