For the second year in a row, the Lynchburg Police Department hosted their National Night Out event at the Riverside park Tuesday night.
This year, in light of the recent mass shootings, the event had special meaning to help put fears at ease.
Police and first responders came together for fun and games, but also to build stronger connections with the community.
“To help solve their problems because they’re our eyes and ears and we can’t do our job without them,” said Sgt. Gary Fink on the Lynchburg Police Community Action Team.
Sgt. Fink said they wanted people who live in Lynchburg to have a chance to get to know them and build confidence that they could protect them from crime, like the recent mass shootings.
“If something were to happen, Lynchburg police department is going to be there. The old saying goes, when people are running away from bullets, the police are running towards them. And that’s our jobs, that’s what they pay us to do, to be their protectors,” said Sgt. Fink.
In light of recent shootings, Chelsey Hoeft says she was afraid to go to the event.
“If I’m going to be totally honest, at first I was a little worried. Now, it’s like any event is kind of open for that sort of carnage,” said Hoeft.
But in the end, she decided it was important to be at the event and show her support for first responders.
“It’s kind of important to make a show that we’re with them and we as a community can stand together against that kind of violence,” Hoeft said.
Among all the resources at the event was this, Be Smart. They handed out locks for gun owners to take extra precaution.
“I think a lot of people are struggling with how to have conversations at this time surrounding guns and gun violence,” Be Smart volunteer Katie Cyphert said.
“What we’re focusing on with be smart is ensuring that people are being responsible with the decisions that make with their own weapons.”
The event was meant to be like an ice breaker and give people a chance for face time with their first responders. If you have any safety questions for police about safety or anything, feel free to reach out to your local department.
Anyone who wants a gun lock can try to buy one at local stores, or reach out to their local police department or sheriff’s office for more details on resources.