HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The first Tuesday in August marks a special day for law enforcement and the communities they serve. National Night Out events were held across the state, including in Hartford.
“It’s all about getting the police together and the community together,” explained Chaliza Diaz, who runs the We Lead program at Milner School in Hartford. “And, having a blast because this is all about building the relationship in our community.”
National Night Out is held annually in communities across the state and across Connecticut. The mission is to strengthen the bond police have with those they serve, knowing these personal connections can make a big impact.
“This is a gamechanger, I think, for some of these kids that don’t always see us as regular people,” said Chief Jason Thody of the Hartford Police Department.
Thody told News 8 this face-to-face interaction is crucial. He, along with members of his department, attended several of these events in the Capitol City.
“When you’re just sitting at home and clicking through the TV, it’s not always the positive you see about law enforcement,” said Chief Thody. “A lot of times, it’s because there was an incident, many times a tragic incident. I think people start to relate those things to the uniform and policing.”
Moments like these are a way to challenge those perceptions, empowering everyone to come together to make the community not just safer, but friendlier. Just ask the seven rising eighth graders at Milner School in Hartford, who helped put one of these events together as part of the We Lead program.
“It’s like a dream come true now that I get to see it for myself, not on a piece of paper,” said Zahrayah Washington of Hartford.
At these different events, residents played games, danced to music and ate food with police officers right alongside them — hoping these small moments will make a lasting impact.