The City of Georgetown Police Department hosted the local annual National Night Out at their headquarters on Tuesday, August 6.

National Night Out takes place across the country and encourages local residents to interact with police officers with a goal of creating a sense of community that includes law enforcement.

Participants had the opportunity to ask questions of police officers, receive free food and confections, participate in games and even drop a police officer in a dunk tank with a well-aimed throw of a ball. But it was not just about having fun and socializing.

“it’s a time for us to get in tune, get closer to the community,” said Kelvin Waites, Chief of Police. “We feel like we have a decent relationship but we can always strengthen it.”

Chief Waites stressed the importance of the relationship between the police department and the community as vital to a more peaceful, functioning community. He said police cannot do their jobs effectively without the help of the local community. A good relationship, he said, helps police solve and prevent crimes.

Sky Campbell, a participant with Optimism Preventive Services in Georgetown, attended with several friends. Campbell said she attended in order to support a community event that provided something for everyone to enjoy.

“I was looking forward to this so I could meet new people and see how my community of Georgetown bonds,” she said.

Several community awards were given by Chief Waites and Georgetown Mayor Brendon Barber for commitment to the Georgetown Police Department’s efforts as well as the community as a whole. Recipients included Candy Holland, Steve Johnson, known as DJ Steve, and the West End Citizens Council.

Holland was recognized for her efforts in locating a missing Georgetown man. She owned a business that had video surveillance which helped authorities locate the 91-year old man. However, she made an effort when she was out of town to come back and get the information to police which helped to locate the man safely. Johnson was recognized for his willingness to participate in events with little notice, including the midnight basketball series sponsored by the Georgetown Police Department which will have its final, back-to-school event on Friday, August 9. The West End Citizens Council was also recognized for their efforts to initiate a self-defense class for recently graduated high school girls. This past summer was the second annual self-defense workshop provided for free and featuring a certified self-defense expert.

Local resident Katelyn Zinkowski provided a wonderful rendition of the national anthem. It was her first public performance and she received several rounds of applause.

The event falls, of course, on the heels of a weekend filled with mass shooting tragedies in Ohio and Texas. While city leaders focused on bringing the Georgetown community together, they did not ignore the tragedies that have shaken the country once again. Mayor Brendon Barber addressed the tragedies and identified Georgetown as a land of community and faith.

“Our thoughts go out to the families in Ohio and Texas,” Mayor Barber said. “Let it be known that with them the City of Georgetown we will not tolerate any forms of hate but we will tolerate love and love heals all. Regardless of where we come from, we still have to love one another and we do a good job of that. We know through God and our savior Jesus Christ we can do all things.”

A prayer was also provided by the department’s chaplain Betty Clark who gave a suggestion toward the end of her prayer which epitomized the spirit of the evening.

“Shine on Georgetown,” she said.