Bel Air Police officer Rick Krause helps McGruff the Crime Dog shake a paw with some new friends during the 2018 National Night Out event at the Aberdeen Target.
Bel Air Police officer Rick Krause helps McGruff the Crime Dog shake a paw with some new friends during the 2018 National Night Out event at the Aberdeen Target. (Matt Button / Aegis Staff / Baltimore Sun)

Harford County law enforcement, first responders and other community partners are joining together to strengthen community ties Tuesday during National Night Out.

“Crime prevention is a community responsibility, we all have a role,” Cristie Hopkins, director of media relations for the Harford County Sheriff’s Office, said.

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The Sheriff’s Office will be joined by Maryland State Police, Aberdeen, Bel Air and Havre de Grace police departments as well as local fire companies and county government agencies from 5 to 8 p.m. tonight at Patterson Mill High School.

“You get to see all the first responders together and see the whole scope of what the county has to offer their community, from law enforcement or first responders — fire and EMS,” Hopkins said.

The Havre de Grace Police Department will also host its own National Night Out community event at 5 p.m. Tuesday in the Somerset Manor community at 101 Stansbury Court.

Police Chief Teresa Walter, who announced the event during a July 15 City Council meeting, said the annual gathering is “a great way to get out and support crime prevention in your neighborhood.” She noted it is also an opportunity for people to meet their neighbors and to “continue building a good relationship between law enforcement as well as the community as a whole.”

Residents of other neighborhoods in the city have also expressed interest in holding Night Out events, but those will happen later this summer and fall, and those dates will be announced, Walter said during the most recent City Council meeting Monday evening.

Celebrations the past few years organized by Target stores have drawn a couple hundred visitors, Hopkins said, but it can be hard to judge if people were coming specifically for National Night Out or were stopping by because they were going to Target to shop, Hopkins said. Target is not involved this year.

“This year we’re really trying to bring a larger variety of organizations to make it very appealing to the community to come in,” she said.

A number of vehicles will be on display, including the HOPE House, the community policing trailer, an animal control vehicle and special operations vehicle, vehicles from each of the municipal police departments as well as fire-fighting apparatus.

“Every kid loves to see a fire truck and a police car,” Hopkins said.

Isabella Carey of Aberdeen takes a pretend spin on one of the Mason-Dixon Wings chapter of the Gold Wing Road Riders Association motorcycles during the 2018 National Night Out event at the Aberdeen Target.
Isabella Carey of Aberdeen takes a pretend spin on one of the Mason-Dixon Wings chapter of the Gold Wing Road Riders Association motorcycles during the 2018 National Night Out event at the Aberdeen Target. (Matt Button / Aegis Staff / Baltimore Sun)

The Harford Office of Drug Control Policy, the Department of Emergency Services and Maryland Department of Natural Resources will also participate.

Retailers such as Rita’s Italian Ice, Chick-Fil-A Constant Friendship, APGFCU, Lidl, Wegmans, and Growing Smiles will also attend.

Kid Print will also provide IDs for children.

The idea of National Night out, begun in 1984, was to bring together multiple agencies with a summer block party-neighborhood feeling at its root, Hopkins said.

“That’s what we’re trying to do,” she said. “Community based crime prevention, a neighborhood party — come socialize, listen to music and learn about your community. Because we really do believe that having a safe community for all is all of our responsibilities. It’s a community effort, not just law enforcement, or animal control — it takes all of us working together.”

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