More than 1,500 people attended the annual celebration last Tuesday evening. Len Santoro, president of the 104th Precinct Community Council, attributed the large turnout to the fact that they combine the event with the Juniper Park Civic Association’s concert series.
“Everybody gets a lot of free giveaways, they get to meet the police and they get a free concert,” he said. “It’s a great combination.”
Hosted for the fourth year at Juniper Valley Park, National Night Out is a chance for the community to meet local police officers, Santoro said.
While the 104th Precinct Community Council hosts a monthly meeting for residents to discuss crime issues with the precinct, Santoro said he often recommends the public attend National Night Out too.
“You get to meet them in a setting that is probably a lot more comfortable than going into the precinct,” he said. “Bring the cops and the community together in a fun way.”
Santoro plans the event four months in advance. Because the community council gets no city budget, everything they get is “through the generosity of the community,” he said.
The Ridgewood native, who now lives in Middle Village, noted that there has been some tension between police and community recently, referring to the videos of people dumping water buckets on cops.
He said police officers have a tough job, and the public sometimes feels “things can be done differently.”
“We need events like this, actually, to come together,” Santoro said. “I feel events like this can help prevent some of the tension that we have, or maybe help heal some of it.”