It isn't often you see "Major Crimes" and "pony rides" side by side on promotional materials, but they are listed that way on the Galloway Township National Night Out flier.
The juxtaposition of the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office unit that handles the most serious and violent crime and a kiddie ride illustrates how all types of communities will try to make learning about crime prevention fun during the 30th annual National Night Out on Tuesday.
Atlantic City has been participating for decades in the annual event, founded by the National Association of Town Watch in 1984 to get people out of their homes at night to learn about public safety.
Other municipalities, such as Hammonton, are joining for the first time this year.
"We've been pondering it for many years, and decided to push it forward even with a shortage of manpower," said police Officer Eric Pohl, who is helping to organize the event with Lt. Mark Fiorentino and Trisha Mento, director of AtlantiCare's Hammonton Family Success Center.
There will be plenty of games and activities, said Mento, including a dunk tank featuring police Chief Robert Jones.
"We have about 50 vendors in total, both food and community organizations," Mento said. "A Harlem Globetrotter is stopping by on his way to Wildwood for Globetrotter games starting there Aug. 7."
But the first goal of the effort is communication between residents and law-enforcement officials, Pohl said.
"We want to show the community what we do. We're not just out there writing tickets," Pohl said. "We'll have the K-9 and SWAT demonstrations. And we'll be there to greet the community."
Hammonton does not have any Neighborhood Watch groups, which informally patrol neighborhoods and report unusual activity to police. But Pohl said the town, like any other, could benefit from such groups.
The combination of public safety information and fun, games and food is the approach taken by most municipalities.
In Atlantic City, which has been participating about 20 years, Officer Bob Berg of the Communications Department takes the lead.
"We're trying to bring the community and the police together, and it seems to be working," Berg said of community barbecues this summer, as well as National Night Out, which he said usually attracts about 350 people.
"I order 500 hot dogs and 500 hamburgers," he said. "We have K-9 demonstrations, we bring out the bomb squad truck and have the mobile vice unit."
He said the police also take fingerprints of children to give to parents, and promote the Tip411 text system, for residents to help police solve crimes by texting anonymously to tip411 (847411), beginning the text with ACPD.
"We have a robot in the bomb truck. Kids get to see the bomb suit. We show them what we put on (for blast protection)," Berg said.
During the K-9 demonstration, dogs are put through their paces with various commands, including an attack command on an officer in protective armor. There is also a bouncy house, face painting and the chance to find out about the Atlantic City PAL Explorers program for kids, Berg said.
Berg said Atlantic City has six Neighborhood Watch groups functioning now through civic groups.
Galloway Township, in its 10th year, has seen its event grow to attract more than 100 vendors and 5,000 to 6,000 attendees, said Beth Stasuk, director of community services.
"Ten years ago, two young officers came to me for help to start this event," Stasuk said. "Since then, it's evolved into an enormous project."
Her partner in putting the event together is township police Officer Kevin Jorgensen, Stasuk said.
A highlight of Galloway's Night Out is watching a New Jersey Forest Fire helicopter fill up with water, then dump it into Patriot Lake, she said. There is also a popular demonstration of the Atlantic County Police Emergency Response Squad, which comes in full camo gear to demonstrate some of its activities.
In rural communities, National Night Out helps bring far-flung residents to one place where they can meet the police force and learn ways to keep themselves safe.
"We have about 6,000 residents, over 65 square miles. We're so large, we can't just walk the neighborhoods," said Capt. Brian Zeck, who organizes Night Out for Mullica Township.
This will be Mullica's third year participating.
"Our overall goal is to send a message to criminals, to let them know neighborhoods are organized and are going to fight back," Zeck said.
Galloway's Stasuk agreed.
"We tried to do neighborhood things, but it's so staff-prohibitive," Stasuk said. "We couldn't provide (all this information) in 27 neighborhoods in the township, but we can provide it in one location. We can show (residents) how to get the things they need to make them safer."
Contact Michelle Brunetti Post:
If you go
All events are free of charge. The list below is based on material submitted to The Press, but other municipalities also may be participating.
ABSECON - 6 to 9 p.m. at Pitney Road soccer field off Crestview Avenue, includes display of fire and police department equipment, Medivac-5 helicopter fly-by, "dunk-a-cop" tank, K-9 demo, A.C. Aquarium touch tank, bouncy rides, and food provided by the Absecon Municipal Alliance. Toys for Tots accepting donations of unwrapped toys for needy children.
ATLANTIC CITY - 5 to 8 p.m. at Center City Park, 1200 Atlantic Ave. Free food, drink and music. Police, Fire, Beach Patrol, and Health Mobile staff will answer questions and provide safety information. There also will be a K-9 demonstration.
EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP - 5 to 8 p.m. at Canale Park at Sycamore Avenue, off Dogwood Avenue. Carnival games, information booths, music, Guns and Hoses softball game with police vs. fire departments.
GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP - 6 to 9 p.m. at Galloway Municipal Complex, Jimmie Leeds Road.
HAMMONTON - 6 to 9 p.m. at Hammonton High School. Harlem Globetrotter autograph signings, State Police helicopter, dunk tank with Police Chief Robert Jones, Cruisin' Classics Auto Club and Hammonton Jeep Club Los Fujitivos vehicles. Music, mobile gaming truck, dance performances, games and activities, followed by the movie "Goonies" on a large outdoor screen.
LINWOOD - 6 to 8 p.m. at All Wars Memorial Park, Devonshire and Wabash avenues on the bike path. Free food, games, slides, mini-golf and prizes. Hosted by the Linwood Police Department, followed by the movie "Night at the Museum," with popcorn and ice cream.
MULLICA TOWNSHIP - 5 to 8 p.m. at Mullica Recreational Complex on Elwood Road. Meet police officers, get child ID cards/kit and see police SWAT demos and an American classic car show. Raffles, bouncy house, free food and refreshments.
NORTHFIELD - 6 to 8 p.m. on the bike path between Tilton and Zion roads. Free food and activities for all ages.
PLEASANTVILLE - 5 to 8 p.m. at the New Hope Commons Park, 301 Woodland Ave. Free food, fun, music and prizes.
VENTNOR - 5 to 8 p.m. behind Ventnor Library, 6500 Atlantic Ave. Free interactive activities and information.
CAPE MAY COUNTY
AVALON - 6 to 8 p.m. in the parking lot north side of Avalon Community Hall, 30th Street and the beach. DJ and live music, games, activities, prizes, and an Avalon Beach Patrol boat on sand for photos. Ends with the movie, "Rise of the Guardians."
CAPE MAY - 6 to 9 p.m. at the Cape May Elementary School, Lafayette Street.
DENNIS TOWNSHIP - 6 p.m. at the Recreation Complex, 565 Dennisville Road, South Dennis. Crime prevention exhibits, drug and alcohol awareness materials, music, inflatables, carnival games, face painting and fireworks at dusk. Chicken barbecue dinners $13 per ticket, benefits David "Buddy Boy" Gonnam scholarship fund.
MIDDLE TOWNSHIP - 6 to 9 p.m. at the Clarence and Georgiana Davies Sports Complex, 626 Goshen Road, Cape May Court House. Former Philadelphia 76er Kevin Brooks will sign autographs, as will a Harlem Globetrotter. Free food, pony rides, kids' games and rides, drunken driving obstacle course, K9 demo, county Sheriff's Department, Jaws of Life demo, skateboarding contest, WASP flying radio control planes and helicopter, street and roller hockey games, Southern NJ Buffalo Soldiers and Blue Knights motorcycle club.
OCEAN CITY - 5 to 9 p.m. at Richard Grimes Sports Complex, 6th Street and Bay Avenue. Free carnival-style fun sponsored by P.B.A. Local #61. Dunk tank, face painting, inflatable play sets, flat-screen TVs with the latest games for children and carnival games with prizes for children. Event is free; refreshments at minimal cost.
VINELAND - 5 to 9 p.m. at Chestnut Assembly of God church, 2554 E Chestnut Ave. Join the Police Department for free food and games, with flyover by N.J. State Police helicopter, water slide, bouncy castle, climbing wall and fireworks.
SOUTHERN OCEAN COUNTY
LONG BEACH TOWNSHIP - 6 to 9 p.m. at Long Beach Township Police Headquarters, 6805 Long Beach Blvd. in the Brant Beach section of the township. Presented by both LBT and Stafford Township police departments. K-9 demo, DJ, photo booth, inflatable rides, safety info, concert by After the Reign at Bayview Park.