Dowagiac Police Department gears up for National Night Out event

DOWAGIAC — Community members will soon have an opportunity to learn more about what it means to be a local police officer in Dowagiac.

The Dowagiac Police department is gearing up to host its second annual National Night Out event from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 3 at Burke Park, near the intersection Main and Lowe streets.

Traditionally hosted on the first Tuesday in August, A National Night Out is a national community-building campaign that aims to enhance the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement in an effort to bring back a sense of community. Dowagiac’s first NNO event was hosted in 2019 and was canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The last NNO event was held in Burke Park in 2019, and the community responded with a great turn out,” wrote Public Safety Director Steve Grinnewald in a letter to the city. “We look forward to the opportunity to serve and connect with our community.”

The 2019 NNO event featured a dance performance by the police department, a K-9 unit demonstration, a SWAT vehicle presentation and a children’s fingerprinting station, while police officers, the county-wide warrant service team and members of the fire department talked to the community about their equipment, roles and safety precautions.

This year’s event will see the return of “The Git Up” challenge. In 2019, a video featuring Mackenzie Prins and Thorn Lewis, of the Dowagiac Police Department, and Kyle Slater, from the Pokagon Tribal Police Department, showing off their dance moves in a dance challenge for the song generated more than 30,000 views on social media, according to DPSD administrative assistant Michell Outlaw.

“It was big,” she said. “We’re hoping to do that again. We’ve challenged all the local police and fire departments. We’re just trying to make this fun. The community loved it, they liked seeing the officers in a fun, comfortable setting.”

This year’s event provides an opportunity to bring police and neighbors together under positive circumstances.

“That’ll be a really big night,” Outlaw said. “I think we’ll have really good feedback from the community.”

True’s Towing will be present in support of the event, and Dowagiac City Clerk Patty Patano will be on hand for questions. The DPD also reached out to the Van Buren-Cass District Health Department and Cass County judgment services.

“Hopefully, we can get the health department on board with us with educational materials or whatever they can do for us,” Outlaw said.

The department’s attendance goal in 2019 was 50 guests, which was exceeded when 170 showed up, according to Outlaw.

While the event is being hosted at Burke Park this year, Outlaw hopes the event will grow to the point where it could be hosted at several locations throughout the city.

“We were certainly happy with the turnout,” Outlaw said. “We hope to increase that number this year. We want to be able to do it in several areas in town to get different crowds. Our goal is to reach more people and show them the positive side of the department. If we can make it big enough to do in multiple locations, that would be big.”

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