SHREWSBURY – Do you remember the twenty-first night of September?
Hundreds of Shrewsbury residents likely do.
On September 21, the Shrewsbury Police Department held its first annual Community Night. The event served as an open house for the new police station, an opportunity to foster relationships between the police department and community members, and the unofficial kickoff for Spirit of Shrewsbury weekend.
“We wanted to make an event that was welcoming for the community. We wanted to get everyone out here to see – not just the building – but how we interact with folks. We’re showing tours of the station, how we’re policing, and how we do business,” Chief Kevin Anderson told the Community Advocate.
Community Night functioned much like “National Night Out” events, which are designed to promote community-police relationships. Many people are away in early August – when National Night Out events are held – said Anderson, so the department chose to hold the event just before Spirit of Shrewsbury. The rescheduling was well worth it; Anderson estimated roughly 2,500 people attended the event.
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The department had been planning this event since February.
Anderson hoped the Community Night would give people an opportunity to interact with the police more casually.
“We’re members of the community,” said Anderson. “If you look around here, you’ll see everybody interacting, everybody talking in a non-enforcement environment. We’re just regular people, and sometimes we have to be guardians of the community.”
The Shrewsbury Police Department pulled out all the stops for this event. Ten food trucks lined the Town Hall driveway, giving patrons numerous dining options. The Town Hall front lawn featured bounce houses, sponsored by the Parks and Recreation Department. Upbeat music from the DJ only increased the excitement.
Other vendors and town organizations – from Spirit of Shrewsbury to Special Olympics – lined the police station parking lot. SkyRise Theater provided face painting for the younger crowd.
Then there were all the police-related activities. The community rushed to pet two horses from the Worcester Police Department’s Mounted Patrol Unit; some residents caught a glimpse of Mikah, the canine officer sitting in one of the police cruisers. One of the Massachusetts State Police helicopters touched down at the event at around 6:00 p.m.
The police department also put their boat, jet ski, cruisers, and other vehicles on display for the community.
Of course, all the fun activities were held around the brand-new police station. The event marked the first glimpse inside the new building for many community members. Town residents – eager to see the latest and greatest town building – quickly booked all the available tours the Police Department offered.
“I’m so proud [to show this building to the community]. It’s an example of how well we’re supported by the community. What’s more important is to see the people in it. The most important part of that building are the people in it,” said Anderson.