Humanizing police officers and firefighters, while providing community members a glimpse of first responder rescue activities, was the intent behind Broomfield’s annual National Night Out event on Tuesday evening.
Community members young and old packed Broomfield County Commons Park to explore interactive learning stations, peek at police gear and fire apparatus and check out oversized public works equipment.
“You’ll see everything from police, fire, streets, stormwater, environmental services, parks and trails and emergency management,” Broomfield Police Department spokesperson Rachel Haslett said.
National Night Out, which has been marked in the U.S. since 1984, expanded in Broomfield this year to include an array of food and drink options, Haslett explained.
“This is our biggest event to date with the biggest footprint,” she said. “Everything is free except for the food trucks.”
Attending National Night Out for the first time was Thornton resident Jessica Todlowski, who brought along her three-year-old son for an educational experience.
“It's great for him to be able to get out and see … police and firemen,” she said.
Witnessing police and fire fighters interacting with residents outside of emergency scenarios was uplifting to witness, Todlowski said.
“Children know that they're somebody that they can go to and not be afraid of,” she said.
The event provides a forum for police to offer insights behind operational tactics, Officer Meredith Durham said.
“They get to see our personalities,” she said.
The goal is to humanize law enforcement, Broomfield Police Detective Jennifer King-Sullivan said.
“Law enforcement gets bad publicity because if you have one or two bad cops that's all over the media,” she said.
Although the rapport between police and residents in Broomfield has traditionally been sound, simmering tensions in other regions across the country make an impact, King-Sullivan said.
“We feel it as law enforcement officers,” she said, “We're brothers and sisters, whether you work in downtown Denver or in Broomfield.”
Ruby Ru's Street Eatery Food Truck owner Chris Rubeck was impressed by the wide-ranging offerings and overall scope of the event.
“This is the first time we've ever come in and it kind of blew us away,” he said “It’s great being a Broomfield resident.”
National Night Out allows law enforcement officers to feel like part of the community, Rubeck said.
“It's cool to be able to connect with them like that, instead of seeing them in a … position of power where you're nervous or scared,” he said.
Broomfield resident Jim Carlson brought along his two grandsons who were intrigued by different interests.
“The reason we came is because my (one) grandson … loves police officers and the other grandson loves big trucks,” he said.
With police, fire and utility crews on hand, the annual community celebration gives citizens an overview of city and county operations, Fire Prevention Specialist Michael Prill said.
“That’s what it's here for, so they can ask the questions and see this stuff because it's their tax dollars,” he said.
The goal behind National Night Out is incorporating anything that helps to keep Broomfield’s streets and community safe, Haslett said.
“It’s really just to give back to the community and for kids to come out and see what it takes to make a city not just safe, but also run,” she explained.
National Night Out places police in a different light, King Sullivan said.
“Most of the time we interact with people at the worst time of their life,” she said. “This is the time that we can interact with them in a positive, very light-hearted environment.”