Event promotes police, community partnerships
By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
ALLEN PARK – From the aerial fire truck ladder rising above the crowd, to the dunk tank making a splash, the annual National Night Out was a hit with residents and police officers alike.
Held locally Aug. 6 at the Allen Park Police Station, 15915 Allen Road, families enjoyed music from a disc jockey, purchasing dinner from food trucks, playing games and checking out police and fire vehicles.
Police Chief James Wilkewitz said the annual event is aimed at providing an evening for families to enjoy, with food, activities, a police car and SUV, and the Downriver SWAT Bearcat, an armored personnel carrier, for visitors to check out, and the fire department’s aerial ladder truck. He said the Melvindale K-9 team also was on hand for a demonstration.
He said the Secret Service fingerprinting station provides a child identification record for parents.
“They can take it home, and God forbid, something ever happens and their child went missing, we would have a form of biometric identification for their child on record,” Wilkewitz said.
Detective Jim Thorburn said the digital fingerprinting and photography, performed by the Secret Service Forensic Division, provides parents with a valuable biometric record for their child should they ever need it. He said if a child is ever abducted, fingerprints can help narrow down a search area.
“You have a thousand pictures of a child, but you don’t have the fingerprints,” Thorburn said. “So, fingerprints are important – they help us identify if somebody was there.”
He said fingerprints never change, and prints are now recorded digitally, without ink.
“It basically takes a picture of the finger, of the print,” Thorburn said. “You don’t have to worry about cleaning it up or them smearing ink on you. It makes everything a lot more efficient. It’s free, and it is an important document that hopefully you will never have to use.”
Kate Whitlow of Southgate said her son A.J., 5, was enjoying riding the Big Wheels, and sitting inside a police car, looking at all the equipment.
“He’s enjoying himself,” Whitlow said. “He loves it, and is having an absolute time-of-his-life. He wants to be a police officer, actually, when he grows up.”
Firefighter and Paramedic Chris Ajlouny was on hand to show equipment to curious children, including the aerial ladder truck on display, which is capable of reaching the top floors of every building in the city.
“They love it,” he said. “They are just looking at everything.”
He said he hopes it inspires some children to become firefighters and paramedics someday.
Kristine Yarborough of Allen Park said her son Bryce, 3, was very excited to see all the police vehicles and firetrucks.
“He loves it, is very into it and is checking it all out,” she said. “It is perfect for his age. He keeps running from one to the next.”
(Sue Suchyta can be reached at [email protected])