ACU Police Department put together its first National Night Out on campus Oct. 6.
Mayor Norm Archibald and Police Chief Jimmy Ellison were in attendance, along with many Abilene citizens and students. National Night Out is an annual community-building campaign that promotes partnerships with the police partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make neighborhoods safer, better places to live.
“It’s all about uniting together against crime in a positive and casual setting,” said Ashley Parker, community coordinator at NewLife Alliance, an after-school childcare program in Abilene.
Seven Abilene organizations participated in NNO with police departments and the surrounding communities. ACUPD’s goal for the event was to start a tradition with the campus and surrounding neighborhoods.
“There are so many students and people living within our small community,” said Lt. Randy Motz, administration and operations officer at ACUPD. “We need those eyes and ears to help us stop crime.”
There were many different activities and booths at the first ACU NNO, which took place by the GATA fountain.
Regional Crime Victim Crisis Center had a table and set up a selfie photo booth. At the booth, people wrote a positive message to stop bullying and crime on a white board, then held it up in the booth and took pictures. Some messages were “No means no” or “No more bullying.” To see more of the positive statements and pictures, you can visit http://www.regionalcrime.org.
Another popular activity was the Marine pull-up bar. The Marines demonstrated the correct, military way to do push-ups, and for women, hangs. A gift card was offered for the male and female who beat the respective records.
ACUPD set up a DWI simulator with a cone course. They had a golf cart that participants had to maneuver around cones while wearing goggles that mimicked the blurriness of drunk driving as Motz directed them through the course.
Food was another attraction at the gathering. ACU police officers grilled hot dogs and passed out beverages.
“I think they had a lot more guests than expected,” said Bob Pipe, police chaplain. “They had to make two extra hot dog runs to get more.” Motz estimated that they grilled over 350 hot dogs for the event.
The new 1881 food truck was also present to help serve food with head chef, Darren Grace.
Police officers mingled and made sure no one was left out of a conversation. The crowd was made up of people of a variety of ages; children with families, students, local Boy Scouts and University Church of Christ members were all in attendance.
Parker and Motz said they wanted to create a positive informational setting for NNO. With a turnout much greater than expected, and plenty involvement, it was a start toward that vision.
Next year, they said they hope to grow in numbers and have more booths and organizations participate as well.