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'It’s like they’re one of them': Baltimore County National Night out events bridge gap between community and police

Baltimore County National Night out events bridge gap between community and police
Posted at 10:42 PM, Aug 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-03 23:11:59-04

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Smiling, laughing and even dancing.

It was a fun-filled night at Central Park in Owings Mills, which was the site of one of many National Night Out events across Baltimore County.

“I really think it shows a lot of unity in the community,” Colleen Mahoney, an Owings Mills resident. “Because not everybody looks the same, not everybody talks the same, and not everybody is from the same walk of life and their background and so what it does is it allows different people from all walks come to together and have a good time.

Dozens of people from Owings Mills gathered at the park to join the police department and other emergency responders to show their support and help rewrite the narrative about community and police relations.

“They can go up to the police officers, they’re a friend,” said Anie Polastre-Jackson, who is the organizer and president of the Owings Mills- Newtown Community Association.

So far this year, there’s been 39 homicides in the county, according to a county police spokesperson. It’s a number that’s already surpassed last year’s total.

Jackson said creating a better partnership between police and the communities they serve is important to reducing crime.

“The community gets to talk to them. They also form that relationship so they’re not really afraid of calling the police if there’s an issue,” she said.

Mahoney believes events like these remove the fear of interacting with a police officer.

“It shows them that police are human like everybody else,” she said.

And what’s a better way to remove that fear than seeing your local police officer do the Cupid Shuffle.

A dance-off was of many activities that took place during an event at the Village of Twelve Trees in Randallstown.

At the event, Baltimore County Police Captain Orlando Lilly urged the community to work with them to help make their neighborhoods and the county safer.

“Bridges are only good when everybody can walk across them,” Cpt. Lilly said.