Communities across the county, from Shady Side to Annapolis to Glen Burnie, pause to take a bite out of crime through National Night Out events Tuesday.
In Shady Side it will be the 25th anniversary National Night Out event from 6 to 9 at the Lula G. Scott Community Center.
The event, led by local business owner Mohan Grover, brings hundreds out every year.
“I really think this is the biggest one in the county,” he said.
This year, amid the food, live music and appearances by county officials, they will also take time to honor Wendi Winters, one of the five Capital Gazette employees slain June 28, with the Leroy Battle Award.
The late Leroy Battle was one of the Tuskegee Airmen, the decorated corps of African-American fighter pilots in World War II. He lived in Lothian and was an inspiration to many as a teacher and civil rights spokesman.
“This year we honor her [Wendi’s] act of bravery. She took it upon herself, picked up whatever she could — her trash cans — and charged that man. She caused a distraction that likely saved people,” Grover said.
“We have been doing this for crime prevention, but this was a crime committed.”
Grover said this is the seventh year the Leroy Battle award has been presented to a person who has worked to promote dignity and respect in the community.
National Night Out is the first Tuesday in August and it’s an opportunity for local neighborhoods and police departments to come together for a night of community bonding.
Started in 1984 by the National Association of Town Watch outside of Philadelphia, it has grown from 2.5 million people participating in more than 400 communities to nearly 40 million people and 16,000 communities taking part, according to the group’s website.
In Annapolis, officers will be attending events planned for Obery Court, Chambers Park, Annapolis Walk, Annapolis Gardens and Bay Ridge Gardens. Each of those communities have previously taken part in National Night Out.
It’s an important event for the Annapolis Police Department and the local communities.
“Last year our goal was to increase the number of communities hosting National Night Out celebrations and we succeeded,” police spokeswoman Sgt. Amy Miguez said. “All but one of those events organized last year is repeating this year. National Night Out is an important, additional, opportunity for community members and officers to meet and talk.
“National Night Out events help us strengthen our partnership with the community to prevent and solve crimes.”
In addition to Shady Side, there will be events in the county at Amy’s Place in Brooklyn, Earleigh Heights Fire Hall in Severna Park, Fort Meade and the Crofton Community Library.
Fort Meade's National Night Out has been recognized by the Army several years in a row as "best in the Army." It is sponsored by Corvias and is free to attend for Fort Meade residents, but there could be costs associated with some vendors, like food trucks.
It begins with a parade of emergency services vehicles through on-post neighborhoods. The Fort Meade garrison commander, Col. Erich Spragg, will ride on a Fort Meade firetruck along with McGruff the Crime Dog and other emergency services personnel.
The event at McGlachlin Parade Field features safety and K9 demonstrations, and participation from local and state law enforcement agencies. In addition to food trucks, there will be bounce houses, games, drawings and hands on demonstrations.
"The Fort Meade Police Department believes National Night Out is the hallmark law enforcement event of the year," said Chief Thomas Russell of the Fort Meade Police Department. "Understanding its worth, we have aggressively sought to make this a memorable event for our community the last 15 years.
“Given the strain on police and community relationships currently, the bonds created with the community at our nationally award winning event is worth its weight in gold. Simply put, it shows we care and our department is definitely proud to play a part."