National Night Out: 'This night is about them'

Law enforcement, civilians get together for nationwide event

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Parents, kids and local businesses showed up at Clarkson Park alongside a large law enforcement presence, but it wasn't cause for alarm.

Under the summer sunset, crowds gathered at parks and common areas across the Denver metro area for National Night Out, including at several places in the Centennial area.

“So many times, we have negative interactions because of a traffic stop” or other incidents, said Duane Fox, an Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office deputy. “When we can come out (and) meet them on a friendlier basis and talk about what we do, it's a great opportunity.”

Fox came to Clarkson Park in west Centennial for the second year in a row for the annual National Night Out event, which aims to enhance relationships between civilians and law enforcement. The sheriff's office bomb squad welcomed kids with two of its remote-controlled robots that deputies use to examine potential explosives. At the Aug. 6 event, a robot handed out suckers from a bucket.

“The kids love it,” Fox said.

Some civilians came for more community exposure, too, such as local businesses and the Model A Ford Club of Colorado, a group that lined up several vintage cars on the grass. A live music group played new and old hits as families ate hot dogs, baked beans, and mac and cheese at long tables.

But law enforcement is still front-and-center in the event's spirit, as Centennial Mayor Stephanie Piko noted.

Her favorite part is “the sense of community that happens when people are willing to volunteer their time to pull their neighborhood together,” said Piko, adding that it's about pulling deputies into the neighborhood as well.

“This night is about them,” Piko said.

Arapahoe County sheriff's deputies attended several other National Night Out events on Aug. 6, including at Walnut Hills Elementary and Arapaho Park in west Centennial, MorningStar Assisted Living facility in central Centennial and Copperleaf Western Park in the far east Centennial area.

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