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Night draws families out
Message aims to drive crime from streets
Hinesville Distric 4 City Councilman Keith Jenkins fingerprints Ryan Kuelling, 9, as Hinesville traffic control officer Renate Howard looks on. - photo by Photo by Denise Etheridge
National Night Out got underway Tuesday after an afternoon thunderstorm caused a brief delay to the family-style event around Bradwell Park in downtown Hinesville.
Fort Stewart and Liberty County residents, many of them children, participated in Hinesville’s eighth annual night out. Attendees learned about crime and drug prevention and had a chance to socialize with local law enforcement and firefighters in a relaxed setting.
Children waited in long lines to be fingerprinted and to have a turn inside the fire department’s safety house. Games and giveaways also held youngsters’ attention.
Midway resident Patricia Kuelling brought her children, Courtney, 12, and Ryan, 9, to be fingerprinted “in hopes that I will never need it.”
Hinesville resident Angela Gallob and her son, Brady, are National Night Out regulars.
“I used to be with traffic control,” Gallob said. “I come out every year. I like to see the crime prevention programs HPD has.”
Hinesville Police Department Crime Prevention Officer Jon Williams, one of the organizers, said National Night Out brings public safety agencies together for one common goal – to educate the public.
Hinesville Police Chief George Stagmeier said the night also spurs interaction between residents and public safety personnel.
“Police officers (and others) give their personal time to be here,” Stagmeier said. He added residents who attend National Night Out are shown ways they can help make themselves and their communities safer.
“It gets people involved,” said Lt. Danny Pittman, who coordinates the Neighborhood Watch Program for the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office. “It only takes a few people to make a (difference).”
Pittman said when neighbors help neighbors by watching out for each other and reporting suspicious activity it helps law enforcement and can reduce a neighborhood’s crime rate.
Fort Stewart DARE officer Arthur Barron welcomed many familiar young faces to his information booth. He works primarily with fifth graders at Diamond, Kessler and Britton Elementary schools.
In addition to Fort Stewart’s DARE program organizers, the installation’s Fish and Game warden was on hand, as were Army Community Services, Liberty Regional Medical Center, the Girl Scouts of America, Liberty County EMA, Atlantic Judicial Circuit Drug Court representatives, family intervention specialists and other organizations and businesses.
National Night Out was established 27 years ago by the National Association of Town Watch, City of Hinesville spokesperson Krystal Britton said. She said the Army, GeoVista, the Liberty County Health Department, AT&T, Dairy Queen and Target helped sponsor activities.
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