(WQOW) - Police departments across the country were busy promoting positive community relations on Tuesday night.
The annual event, National Night Out, provides an opportunity for law enforcement agencies across the U.S. to bring education, conversation, and fun to those they serve.
At Carson Park on Tuesday night, people of all ages enjoyed music, games, raffles, giveaways, a mascot dance-off, dozens of emergency response vehicles, and more. Those festivities extended through the Chippewa Valley. At the Northern Wisconsin State Fairgrounds, Chippewa Falls residents also engaged in a night of entertainment.
“The great thing about National Night Out is it really allows an opportunity for the public, especially children, to have an interaction with law enforcement and other first responders," said Chippewa Falls Police Officer Joan Mattheisen. "It creates a really great positive interaction between us and the community.”
Officers with the Eau Claire Police Department shared the same sentiment.
"Things like this are just a chance for people to meet us, to get to know the people behind the badge a little bit, and for us to get to know the people that we serve," said ECPD Officer Josh Miller.
While events like National Night Out provide some light-hearted fun between law enforcement and members of the community, officers said it goes beyond that.
"It's been a tough year for law enforcement, but our country in general," said Miller. "There's a lot of wounds that need to be healed and communicating that needs to be done. Events like this, while ultimately kind of small, is really, really important; the first steps in kind of building a lot of bridges between law enforcement and the community. We need our community to be able to do our job and they will not trust us without getting to know us."
Both Chippewa Falls and Eau Claire canceled National Night Out last year due to the pandemic, so officers from both departments said they're thrilled to have been able to welcome everyone back this time around.