National Night Out

Jashan Smith, 3, of Pleasantville pets 'Z,' a therapy dog, brought by Mark Johnson, FBI ret., from the Atlantic County Police Training Center. Tuesday August 6 2013 National Night Out celebration in Pleasantville at New Hope Commons Park. (The Press of Atlantic City / Ben Fogletto)

Ben Fogletto

Harriet Westbrook wants to make her city safer. So she organized an event to bring as many people as she could together.

Westbrook organized the Pleasantville National Night Out event on Woodland Avenue Tuesday. There were similar community events held throughout South Jersey and the country for the national day of recognition for safety and local law enforcement.

“My focus is to bring some change to the city and make everyone’s life happy by preventing crime,” Westbrook said.

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The Pleasantville event drew a few hundred people — the most ever in the 30-year history of the program, Westbrook said. Several law enforcement and city officials spoke about the need for people to work with the authorities to help prevent and solve crimes.

Pleasantville police Chief Jose Ruiz said the department wants to do more outreach events and embrace the community.

“It’s a way to connect to the community and let them know that law enforcement is behind them,” he said. “We want cooperation with the community. Us working together, we can make our community safer a better community to raise our kids.”

The events also featured tables with local businesses and organizations as a way to bring more people out.

Northfield hosted its National Night Out event on the bike path between Zion and Tilton roads. The pathway was filled with adults and children as they enjoyed activities such as a petting zoo, rides and free haircuts.

Chief Robert James, who oversees the Northfield and Linwood police departments, said the towns changed their approach a little this year by inviting more groups and businesses to attend to bring the most amount of people out.

The goal is for people in the community to get to know each other as well as the local police officers, he said.

“We’re all in this together,” he said. “We are very fortunate and we want to make this the best community it can be.”

Several officers were on hand for the event to meet with residents.

Capt. Brian Barnett, of the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office, said representatives of the office were at the majority of the county’s events to meet with residents — especially the children — and promote safety tips.

“We want to be out and show our support for the community,” he said. “We want to let them know we’re here and available to the community.”

Northfield resident Dave Notero said the events are good for people to come out and especially to meet local officers.

“I pretty much know them all already but it’s always good to meet them again,” he said.

Contact Joel Landau:


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Senior copy editor for the Press of Atlantic City. Have worked as a reporter, copy editor and news editor with the paper since 1985. A graduate of the University of Delaware.

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