BY MARIAH MOORE
The warm evening of August 1st was the annual Hays PD Community Night Out, a chance for the community to spend time with the dedicated police force, as well as a chance to thank them for their service. The event lasted from 5 pm to 8pm and offered free admission to the Hays Aquatic Park, as well as free hotdogs and hamburgers to the first 1,000 people in attendance. Officers showed up with their families for the event, and the aquatic park soon filled with dozens of community members, all gathering in a show of support for the local law enforcement.
This is the fourth annual Community Night Out, with numbers of attendees in the past being around 1000, it is an amazing turnout to an event which really brings the community together. The facebook event had more than 300 people interested in going.
“This was really our chance to thank the community…we have to give all the support the community gives us back to them. We have a fantastic community that we work in,” said Brian Dawson, the Deputy Chief for Hays PD.
Dawson explained that this event was also geared towards the officers showing their thanks for the community. He talked about how important the relationship is between law enforcement and the people. Dawson has a clear passion for both Hays and its people, he had many thanks for both the cooks who catered the event, as well as everyone who came.
“Giving thanks, saying thank you, that’s what it’s really all about,” Dawson elaborated.
And giving thanks was certainly what the event did. The PD showed up both in uniform and out, served food, chatted with people, and enjoyed themselves. The entire event was carefully orchestrated by both retired policemen, as well as current.
However, both sides of the police force agreed the Community Night Out was something which has improved their connection with the people. Many of the officers saw it as a “humanizing event”, letting people see the officers swim and partake in the fun just like other community members.
“We have to work together as a community to make life work, and it’s nice to actually be able to recognize citizens too,” Dawson said.
The Hays PD is known for being very connected to the people, showing their presence at not only this event, but at many other local events in the past. This is an effort to make the force something the people are more comfortable being around as well as going to.
“The uniform can be intimidating, people get nervous around cops…Things like this help with that, help reassure them we are the good guys.” Dawson said.
The community now eagerly awaits next years Community Night Out. The Hays PD is always trying to find more ways to get involved within the community. They post frequent updates for local events, as well as general updates on their Facebook page.