O'Fallon Progress

Community outreach part of police department mission, park event

As part of the O’Fallon Police Department’s education mission, a fun night of mingling and free giveaways is being planned for the community.

“Night to Unite! Neighbors Joining Together” will take place starting from 6 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 2 at the O’Fallon Community Park, 401 E. Fifth St. Residents can enjoy food, refreshments and fun with local police.

“This event is a lot of fun for adults, kids, and the officers who participate. Everything is completely free – no one will be asked to pay for or donate anything,” said Detective Nick Schmidt, who is chair of the event.

He said building relationships is an ongoing goal in the department.

“We want Night to Unite to be a worthwhile evening for our community and we’re always looking for ways to improve. I hope people learn a little bit about public safety and have a great time in the process,” Schmidt said.

“Education and crime prevention are two elements of the O’Fallon Police Department mission. We hope the relationships we build with members of our community during events like this help us to achieve those goals,” he said.

While the police sponsor the event, local businesses make contributions and both the O’Fallon Fire Department and EMS participate.

“There will be appearances by other agencies that we frequently cooperate with,” Schmidt said.

Depending on the availability of personnel, about 15 police officers plan to be there, along with one fire engine and crew, and one ambulance with crew on hand. Various public safety civilian personnel will be present, too.

“What makes this event unique is it allows police and other First Responders to mingle with the residents we serve in a fun and relaxed environment,” he said.

Similar events have been held, under a different name, since 2007, but it has not been annually.

“With continued support from the community, we hope to grow this into an annual event that residents look forward to,” Schmidt said.

Right now, there is not an alternate date in case of inclement weather. However, if that happens, the freebies will still get distributed.

“We’re hoping for good weather, but if we get rained out we’ll make sure all our fun giveaways get distributed to the community one way or another,” he said.

That night, youth will receive a free goody bag after they collect cards with three different officers’ photos on them. The cards will be distributed during the event.

Schmidt said while attendance can’t be estimated, he encouraged people to get there early for the giveaways.

“Show up at 6 p.m. if you want to be sure to get food and autograph cards!” he said.

Sponsors include Holden Realty Group, Bank of O’Fallon, Olson Orthodontics, Absopure, Wolfersberger Funeral Home, Subway and Dairy Queen.

In addition to goody bags and food, free raffles for bicycles and pizza will take place. Bounce houses will be set up, and a K-9 demonstration is also planned.