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The City Journals

Second annual Night Out Against Crime connects residents and public safety

Aug 31, 2017 09:38AM ● By Jana Klopsch

A remote-controlled toy police car named Cuffs drove around the booths and talked to kids about the event. (Jessica Parcell/City Journals)

By Jessica Parcell | [email protected]

Candy, balloons, booths and children chasing a talking police car were all part of South Salt Lake’s Night Out Against Crime and Emergency Preparedness Fair.

The event started as a collection of block parties hosted by the Community Watch programs, and city officials would visit each one. Gary Keller, public information officer of South Salt Lake, said that this helps make law enforcement aware of what’s going on in the community.

“It takes law enforcement down to the grassroots level,” Keller said. “They are our eyes and ears, and so we depend greatly upon them too.”

Several booths lined the sidewalks of Central Park. SSL Public Works, American Red Cross, and even Air Med Helicopter staff answered questions and educated residents about the safety resources available to them.

“We want to connect with our community, we want to make that community connection,” Keller said. “So, we’re not always just chasing the bad guys, we’re connecting with the community letting them know that we’re here.”

Mayor Cherie Wood said the most important thing is getting the residents out and making them aware of all the different public services the city has and what is going on around them.

“People love to see all the new projects that are going up in the city,” Wood said. “We have an amazing participation for public safety police and fire—our kids get to meet them and get to know them.”

Dwayne Ruth, deputy chief of police for South Salt Lake, said that bringing people together is the best approach, because it allows them to communicate with the residents better rather than group them off into separate block parties.

“It just gives us a venue to interface with the community a lot more than we were able to historically,” Ruth said.

Ruth said that the booths featuring the different public services and departments weren’t happening when they kept everyone separated in their neighborhoods, and the people notice.

“I’ve already visited with a number of different community members,” Ruth said. “A number of different people from the city, people from the community—the FBI is here—those types of things weren’t happening historically.”