The Perry Police Department were honored in the parking lot of Hy-Vee for the second annual “Police Night Out.” The event occurs every first Tuesday of August and allows community members to meet the police force of Perry, as well as give children the opportunity to meet with officers.
“National Night Out” started in 1984 by the National Association of Town Watch, with a goal of promoting relationships with officers and the community.
Hy-Vee first started the event in the parking lot last year after deciding it was important to show support for the police force, Larry Vodenik, Event Coordinator and Community Involvement for Hy-Vee said.
Vodenik was shocked to find the reactions of children as they approached officers.
“When the families would come up, the kids would come up and get behind their parents because they were afraid of police, and that was kind of my thinking,” Vodenik said. “They’re not going to be afraid of Laura - so that’s kind of the way we got involved with it.”
Earlier in the afternoon, Hy-Vee grilled at the Perry Police Department, providing a free lunch to the officers in recognition of the national day.
“It’s a national day and different communities do different things and so this is our own spin on it,” Vodenik said.
Officer Laura Deaton participated in the “Police Night Out” last year and loved the experience.
Deaton said her favorite part of the day is being able to showcase the car: allowing kids to climb in and out of the vehicle, make noise with the sirens, and allowing them to interact with the car.
“I’ve been here the last couple of times I’ve done this,” Deaton said. “Just letting them know that it’s okay because that’s my biggest goal here: showing the kids that it’s okay to hear our loud sirens, to see our lights, and to see us, and know that we’re just human.”
Chief Eric Vaughn was unable to attend last year’s event, but enjoyed his first time experience.
“It’s great,” Vaughn said. “Anytime we can come out here and interact with kids, but also with adults and parents, its just an opportunity for us to talk to them and speak with them in a positive light.”
Visitors walked over to the police car before entering the Hy-Vee store and others planned on attending the event, even dressing for the occasion.
Seven-year-old Precious Nicolaisen could not decide what outfit she wanted to wear before meeting the officers.
“She was so stoked about it, she had to pick up the perfect dress,” Brenda Nicolaisen said.
“I’ve been talking to her about her safety,” Nicolaisen said. “I want her to be friends with the cops and I want her to know exactly what to do and when to do it.”
The goal of the day is promote relationships with the community and a mutual understanding for one another. Vaughn believes the community and the force get along great.
“I think we have a really positive relationship with the town,” Vaughn said.