DeKALB – Local police agencies across the county pooled their resources not to fight crime but to teach people how to prevent it at the National Night Out event in DeKalb.
Police and fire departments from DeKalb, Sycamore and the county came together at a parking lot near Target to give area residents the chance to talk with them in person, learn about crime prevention and also have some fun.
National Night Out,which started in 1984, was sponsored by Target and held at more than 1,600 locations across the nation, said Target group leader Brian Wedoff. The company is typically supportive of law enforcement and will partner with police for various events, he said.
“The whole flavor of it is a national night out against crime,” Wedoff said.
For DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Gary Dumdie, the event was an opportunity for the police and community to meet on a festive occasion and educate residents about law enforcement tools.
“Too many times, when we interact with people, it’s unfortunately for a crime or accident,” Dumdie said.
The DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office brought its mobile command post vehicle for residents to see. Inside the vehicle were radio systems, computer equipment and other electronic tools used by the department. The command post also had a 911 simulator to teach children how to use the emergency number.
Roving across the parking lot was a little fire hydrant named “Pluggie” that was named after what fire hydrants were once called – fire plugs.
The robotic fire hydrant was remotely controlled by Sycamore firefighter James Ward. He said Pluggie was created to educate children about fire prevention and safety.
“[Pluggie is about] trying to keep the kids safe, happy and teach them lessons,” Ward said.
Ward was able to listen to children talk to the robot through his headphones and communicate back with his microphone. He said Pluggie is a big hit with the Sycamore school district.
The DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office also brought its K-9 unit for demonstration. The police-trained German shepherds are trained to detect drugs such as crack cocaine, heroin, meth and ecstasy, deputy Toby Jennings of the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office said.
“One of the things we look for with these guys is that they’re social,” Jennings said.
During the demonstration, the dogs showed their passive alert pose when detecting illegal substances and their powerful bite. With his arm padded, Jennings, one of the officers giving a demonstration, taunted one dog who grabbed on his arm and didn’t let ago after Jennings spun around.
To learn more about National Night Out, visit www.natw.org.