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Parisians got out and mingled with local law enforcement, fire fighters and emergency medical personnel in what officials describe as a successful first Texas Night Out event at Love Civic Center.
“You can see all the people talking to the police and fire department and EMS. That’s what we’re here for,” Police Chief Bob Hundley said at the Tuesday event. “It’s better to meet them now than when you need them.”
Clear, pleasant weather helped draw the hundreds in attendance. Free hot dogs and entertainment for children didn’t hurt, either. There were bounce houses, police vehicles, fire trucks, and ambulance and even a medical helicopter to look at and, in some cases, even climb inside.
“We’re seven minutes into it, and I don’t think we’re going to have enough hot dogs,” Hundley said.
With 800 hot dogs available, Fire Chief Larry Wright wasn’t so sure they would run out, but promised to keep the grills going as long as they were available.
Organizing the event required several hands from the various departments involved, although Hundley said Wright provided the impetus.
“It started years ago as a police-community relations event,” the police chief said. “He had the idea to consolidate it.”
Participating organizations included Citizens on Patrol, Paris and Reno police, Paris and Reno fire departments, Lamar County Sheriff’s Office, Texas Department of Public Safety, Paris EMS, EagleMed and others.
Paris EMS Director Kent Klinkerman said he was glad to see so many people come out.
“National Night Out is a good way for citizens to meet the first responders who serve Paris and Lamar County,” he said. “Hopefully, they’ll pick up some materials that will help keep them safe.”
Wright said they’re already looking forward to next year’s event, with improvements based on what they’ve learned this year.
“There are some areas that weren’t given as much exposure,” he said. “We’ll rearrange some things. For a first time, I think it was pretty good.”
Texas Night out is based on National Night Out, which takes place in August.
National Association of Town Watch introduced “America’s Night Out Against Crime” in 1984. The program encourages crime prevention through community events that allow people to get to know one another. In 2008, the Texas Police Chiefs Association requested the state’s event be moved to the first Tuesday of October due to the extreme Texas heat.
“Any time the public can come out and meet the local emergency first responders and have a good time and build relationships, it’s all a good thing,” Sheriff Scott Cass said. “The citizens are our eyes and ears. Building a relationship with them is a win-win.”
By Jeff Parish, eParisExtra