Although fun, food and prizes were plentiful at the fourth annual National Night Out at Wheeling Park, a larger purpose was at hand - providing a chance for the public to become familiar with their neighbors and public safety officials to promote safety in the community.
Hundreds of children and their families gathered at the event to meet with members of the Wheeling Police Department, Wheeling Fire Department and the Ohio County Sheriff's Department, who took the opportunity to have a little fun showing different aspects of police work to the public.
"National Night Out is a national initiative and folks in Wheeling are doing it the right way," Wheeling Police Chief Shawn Schwertfeger said. "It's a way to bring law enforcement and public safety together with the community. People get to know each other, and it's a great thing. The officers really enjoy it - that's why we get into this job, to work closely with the community."
Photo by Sarah Harmon
Wheeling resident Peyton Stewart, 8, gets a taste of what it’s like to ride a police motorcycle at National Night Out at Wheeling Park.
Children were excited to take pictures with a police motorcycle, take a spin on bicycles while learning about bike safety and to get their fill of free pizza, hot dogs, chips and other goodies.
Each participant received a ticket for a chance to win a variety of donated prizes, including 20 bicycles, gift certificates and toys, event organizer Carol Roset said. Roset noted everything at the event is offered to the public at no charge.
A police dog demonstration with Sgt. Rick Roxby and Patrolman Jason Martin and the K-9 unit was a favorite with the crowd. Roxby and Martin demonstrated how the dogs are trained to subdue a suspect by latching onto his or her arm until instructed to let go.
The Wheeling Fire Department also welcomed families to learn how to safely exit a home with its fire safety house at the entrance of the event.