After a tragic weekend that saw dozens more people killed or injured in mass shooting incidents, the national community-building event called National Night Out had its local outings in Delaware County to boost morale.
Community members in Upper Darby, Springfield, Havertown and others were able to meet up with first responders to continue forming strong bonds between the protected and their protectors for any criminal event that may occur in their respective areas, a cornerstone prerogative to the National Night Out program.
“From the police perspective, National Night Out shows the community supporting the police, the police supporting the community. It shows strength in the community, it shows strength in collaboration,” said Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood Tuesday night. “We’re all working for the same goal, and that’s the quality of life for everybody. No matter where you come from, no matter what you do, you deserve to live in peace and harmony and tranquility, period. That’s what National Night Out emphasizes.”
Upper Darby is notable as being one of the most populous municipalities in the state, and one of the most diverse with dozens of people from all religions, socioeconomic backgrounds, countries and speaking myriad languages within its borders. Chitwood said the Upper Darby community really gets along.
In neighboring Lansdowne, Police Chief Dan Donegan said the borough is a tight-knit community year-round. National Night Out “brings it all together” in one night.
“This is a great night to bring our community together with all of our first responder in police, business owners and everybody to get to know each other,” he said. The weekend shootings in El Paso and Dayton, the latter being quelled with the shooting death of gunman Connor Betts by Dayton police in less than a minute since the first shots rang out, is “another active shooter situation for law enforcement and we take precautions every day and try to train for those times.”
“As a police department we have to be ready to protect everybody involved and people have to be very vigilant these days,” said Donegan.
National Night Out started in 1984 to send a message of camaraderie among neighbors. It is operated under the Wynnewood-based National Association of Town Watch.