T-shirts, school supplies and a life-sized bloodhound mascot renowned for taking a bite out of crime will be on tap Tuesday night as police and neighbors join together to take their own bite out of drugs and violence.
Starting at 6 p.m., nearly 30 police officers will converge on 30 Rock Hill neighborhoods, distributing free give-aways and hopefully building relationships with neighbors who will trust police to resolve their issues, said Rock Hill Police Lt. Jim Grayson.
And, theyll do it all while grilling burgers, eating ice cream and sliding down water slides during National Night Out.
National Night Out, a nationwide campaign sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch entering its 30th year, gives residents and police an opportunity to host cookouts, contests and festivals while taking a vigilant stand against crime, drugs and violence.
In Rock Hill, caravans of police cars and fire trucks will make stops in five areas, including the South Central, Flint Hill and College Downs neighborhoods south of City Hall. McGruff the Crime Dog, known to pose for pictures and hug eager children, will join them.
Bridge the gap
For Rock Hill police, the goal is to bridge the gap between the community and police, Grayson said, and bring police to the neighborhood in a good way.
One of those neighborhoods will include Market Place apartments off Heckle Boulevard, where police documented 35 reported crimes so far this year within 500 feet of the complex.
Since she became apartment manager, Martha Bratton said shes worked to change the areas reputation. The people who live at Market Place school-age children, parents and the elderly are not the source of the issues.
Its the company that they keep, she said.
To push out the unwanted guests, Bratton said apartment management has started placing troublemakers on trespass and banning them from the property.
The gathering at Market Place, with hot dogs, hamburgers and music, will start at 5 p.m. and last until 8 p.m.
Its just been an amazing event, she said. We seem to grow every year.
In York, neighbors will be able to tour the police department, feast on shaved ice and cotton candy and dunk-a-cop in a dunking booth on Roosevelt Street during the York Police Departments second-year taking part in the nationwide event.
The festivities start at 7 p.m. and will last until 9 p.m.
Police decided to centralize the location this year after some groups fought over resources, and others might have mistaken the picnics on church lawns as purely church events, said York Police Chief Andy Robinson.
This year, he said, police want to make sure everyone is included.
Jonathan McFadden • 803-329-4082