Police invite community to a night on the town

PAT FRIDGEN
Greencastle police officer TJ Anderson and secretary Nicole Bowser show the detective bags children will receive when they sign up for the National Night Out scavenger hunt. The Aug. 3 evening is meant to draw the community together, as residents, businesses and law enforcement personnel get to know each other better.

Greencastle police officer TJ Anderson can't wait for National Night Out on Aug. 3. That evening the police will be out in force on South Carlisle Street. She hopes the community will be too.The reason a crowd could gather is to meet a goal of the nationwide event.

"We want the community to meet police in a relaxed situation," said Anderson. "The purpose of the night is to get police into the public in a non incident-related manner."

She especially wants the youth of town to talk to the officers and participate in the activities with them, to see that the men and women in uniform "are human too, just doing a job."

Anderson is spearheading the night, which was started by the National Association of Town Watch 27 years ago. The joint effort by law enforcement agencies, businesses, citizens, local officials and civic groups is meant to serve as a crime and drug prevention program. As everyone involved gets to know each other better, the partnership for a safer community gets stronger.

Anderson has been working diligently to provide several activities for people of all ages, and this year the night coincides with Old Home Week. It's one more thing people can add to their list of things to do and people to see between 5 and 8 p.m.

For kids

Children in grades K-12 are invited to participate in a Scavenger Hunt. Beginning July 26, they can stop by the Greencastle police station to pick up a detective bag, which will be stuffed with goodies donated by local businesses. Included is a passport. The children then have until Aug. 3 to read the clues in the booklet, visit each business in the solved clue to have the passport stamped, and turn it in at NNO. They are eligible for prizes, including something 'grand', for which they must be present to win.

Anderson has an ulterior motive for the hunt.

"We're getting kids familiar with the borough," she said, "so they know where they live."

She is thrilled with the response from the businesses. Franklin County Crime Solvers donated the bags, and local businesses have sent over gift items for the bags, available to the first 100 children who register. Some companies have also donated money which will be used to purchase the grand prize. Anderson promises it will be something really good. It will be given away at 7:30 p.m.

For adults

A few, or maybe many, adults and perhaps younger people, could spend a little time in jail that night. Their friends can purchase a 'citation' to put them in 'jail.' Never fear, it won't be a real holding cell, but will be something on Carlisle between Center Square and Franklin Street. Then the person must pay a fine to get out, or sit in jail for 10 minutes. The 10 minutes could stretch out longer depending on the number of citations.

"Really popular people, I suggest they be out of town that day," quipped Anderson.

It's all in the spirit of fun. The money raised will be used to upgrade security at Jerome R. King Playground.

Police have been talking to members of the Greencastle Playground Committee, who want to supercede problems at the park, particularly drug and gang activity. They want the playground to remain a family-friendly area. Discussions have centered around installing cameras or extra patrols by police, among other options.

For everyone

Anderson grins when she talks about a Pitchburst. The game calls for someone, and it's going to be a police officer, to sit under a suspended container of water. People can purchase chances to throw balls at a target, and if they hit the bullseye, the water will douse the victim. This money will also go toward the playground.

Roni, the K-9 officer, will also be on hand that evening. And two human officers will be on duty throughout the borough.

A final event on Tuesday, from 1-7 p.m., is a medication takeback.

"I'm really excited about that," Anderson explained. "Everyone in Franklin County can participate in this."

The department will accept expired and unused medications, at a location to be announced. The purpose is to get the drugs out of the home and disposed of properly. Law enforcement agencies have access to incinerators, which will keep the medications out of the water supply or landfill. The police see a need to assist citizens is cleaning out their medicine cabinets.

"We are aware of many incidents where kids are getting these medicines at home, unbeknownst to the adults," said Anderson.