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Harford law enforcement to participate in ‘National Faith & Blue Weekend’ Saturday, in place of National Night Out

In place of National Night Out, Harford County law enforcement will host an informational session, a K-9 demonstration and meet some of the residents they serve at Patterson Mill High School as part of National Faith & Blue Weekend, coinciding with crime prevention month.

From noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, the sheriff’s office, Maryland State Police, Transportation Authority Police along with the Aberdeen, Bel Air and Havre de Grace police departments will be at the school offering crime prevention tips and meeting attendees. The Citizens' Police Academy Alumni Association will also be selling hot dogs, and vendor booths will be open, the sheriff’s office announced.

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Sheriff’s office spokesperson Cristie Hopkins said that, while the event brings together religious organizations together with law enforcement and communities, the event itself is not religious. The event is endorsed by the Department of Justice, National Sheriff’s Association, the International Association of Chiefs of Police and others organizations.

A few churches will be represented at the event, but other community partners like Harford Association of Realtors, Brightview Assisted Living and the Marine Corps, among others, will have tables.

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Like National Night Out, Faith & Blue Weekend is a collection of events hosted across the U.S. that focus on strengthening relationships between police and the communities they serve.

Hopkins said the sheriff’s office would have participated in both the Faith & Blue Weekend and National Night Out, which is typically held on a Tuesday in August, but the COVID-19 pandemic postponed the night out until Oct. 6. Because of the overlap of participants, and the size of the events, the office elected to only participate in one.

“The goals of both events are closely tied — to bring together public safety and the community to learn about each other and continue a community conversation,” she said.

Lt. Will Reiber of the Aberdeen Police Department said a selection of its officers will be attending the Saturday event. They plan on bringing some bags to hand out to younger attendees, though they will be pre-packaged so as not to spread the virus. Still, he said the agency is excited to be at the event and interact with citizens.

Reiber said the department was cognizant of the risks of hosting in-person gatherings, but he was confident that county residents, and officers, know how to avoid transmission and follow the recommendations of public health experts.

“This county demonstrated we can host events and be mindful of the CDC recommendations,” he said. “People have been made aware of what the good practices are, and we will be following those same practices.”

Hopkins said that attendees will be asked to wear masks and maintain social distancing.

The Havre de Grace Police Department will be at the event Saturday, but Sgt. Daniel Petz said the department also had plans to host a virtual night out Tuesday over the internet. He said the department will host the virtual meeting on its Facebook page at 7:30 p.m., explaining what the department normally does and try to connect with residents virtually.

“Hopefully next year we will be back to meeting in person on National Night Out,” Petz said.

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