BUCKHANNON – The Rotary Club of Buckhannon-Upshur received an update about the recent National Night Out at the club’s weekly meeting Tuesday.
Lt. Doug Loudin attended the meeting to thank Rotarians for donating $750 to the Aug. 2 National Night Out and tell them how the event went.
“We had approximately 250 kids during the National Night Out event, so your donation went a long way to provide more prizes for these children and their families,” Loudin said. “I want to thank Rob Zuliani for donating Zul’s and Sam Nolte for splitting the cost of the pizzas, because we go through about 100 pizzas and it’s greatly appreciated.”
The Buckhannon Police Department started organizing National Night Out events about 15 years ago.
“It is a program that takes police departments and the citizens of a community, and we celebrate joining in our efforts to take a stand against crime,” Loudin said. “The chief and I both are very community service oriented; we like to provide different events for children and people in our community.”
He said the event helps families in the community see police officers and first responders in a different light.
“We saw this as an opportunity to take an evening and just have fun with the kids, have fun with families, have fun with parents, because they don’t oftentimes get to see us in a very positive way, especially in the society we live in today,” Loudin said. “We try to take these opportunities to dispel any myths, to show these kids that we are human, we do have a heart and we do want to protect them, we do want to reach out and we do provide various services.”
Loudin said he has organized the event for the past several years, but he is passing down the mantle to Sgt. Marshall O’Connor and patrolman Angel McCauley for future events.
“I’m getting at that point in my years of service that I have to start training people how to plan for these programs,” Loudin said. “They’re going to take over. I’ll still help out and I’ll still go because I love to watch the kids.”
The Buckhannon Police Department tries to reach out to the community as often as possible, including participating in Trunk or Treat and the Children’s Festival.
“We want the children and the community to get to know us,” Loudin said. “When we got our CALEA accreditation, the one thing that stood out to the accreditors was the fact that people knew us by name. They didn’t call me Lt. Loudin, they didn’t call Chief Gregory, chief, they called us by our first name, and that stood out to them because they’re from larger cities.”
Loudin said they hope this level of familiarity is maintained going forward.
“We want the people in our community to get to know us, be familiar and just be comfortable,” Loudin said. “I look forward to doing more events with the kids, and National Night Out was one of them.”