Night Out Against Crime encourages community policing
Aug 20, 2019 11h26
By Jenniffer Wardell
Columbia Jones and his band performing during this year’s Sugar House Night Out Against Crime. (Photo Rachel Collings)
By Jenniffer Wardell | [email protected]
People can play a big part in their own safety.
That was the message of this year’s Sugar House Night Out Against Crime, held earlier this month at Fairmont Park. The event, which included live music, a bike rodeo, free books, art, free food and more, was a way for residents to interact with local police officers and firefighters. Salt Lake City Police Department Chief Mike Brown said nights like these are a great way to build trust between the public and the police department.
“The best partner we have against crime is the community,” Brown said. “We’ve really tried to put our money where our mouth is and go back to a community policing model.”
That model depends on residents keeping an eye on their own neighborhoods and reporting anything that looks suspicious, including people and vehicles that aren’t part of the regular rhythms of the area.
“People know their communities better than anyone,” Brown said. “They know who should and shouldn’t be there.”
It helps if people make sure they’re always paying attention to what goes on in their neighborhoods.
“Be situationally aware,” Officer Michael Darelli said. “You’d be surprised at how much happens in front of people that no one notices.”
It’s especially helpful when residents learn to notice and remember certain types of information about the situations they report. License plate numbers, names, ages, height, weight, makes and models of cars, and direction of travel, are all information the police might find useful.
“Try to get specific details,” Officer Austin Gold said. “These are things we can use to develop probable cause.”
Getting pictures of suspicious people and license plates can also be a big help.
“Everyone has a cell phone,” Gold said.
Even if it turns out to be a false alarm, he said it’s better to call than not call.
“If it turns out to be nothing, that’s okay,” Brown said. “At least we met and shook hands with a member of the community.”
Officer Chuck McNamee, with the Salt Lake City Police Bomb Squad, echoed the sentiment.
“Don’t hesitate to call,” he said. “We have the capabilities to X-ray any kind of item. It’s what we do.”
Though most people don’t expect to run into situations where they might need to call the bomb squad, McNamee said it’s more common than expected.
“We get calls all over the valley, to basements, roads and fields,” he said. “A lot of what we find are old military munitions.”
With the Salt Lake City branch of the Bicycle Collective handing out bikes to local kids during the event, bicycle safety was also on everyone’s mind.
“Wearing your helmet and obeying traffic laws are the biggest things (people need to watch out for),” Sgt. Andrew Cluff said. “Either (bikers) are running a light, or biking on the wrong side of the road.”
Members of the Salt Lake City Fire Department were also on hand, letting kids see the inside of a fire truck and answering questions about their job. Many of the calls the fire department goes out on are medical related, especially now that fireworks season is over. With the heat still high, Engineer David Wall said the temperature is the biggest risk many people will face.
“The important thing is to stay hydrated,” he said. “People don’t drink enough water as it is, and on a day like today it’s even more important.”
Still, there are certain fire safety measures people should remember no matter what time of year it is.
“Check your smoke detectors twice a year,” Capt. Bob Silverthorne said. “Change your batteries when you change your clocks (for daylight savings). Also, practice fire exit drills. You should have at least two ways to get out and a place to meet up.”
They also said that residents should keep an eye out for anything dangerous, just like the police department does. Whether it’s an improperly stored gasoline can or a suspicious looking car, local emergency personnel want to know about it.
“If they see a situation or need help with something, they should give us a call,” Brown said. “We’re public servants, and we want to be known as the guardians of the community.”