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Lincoln residents, police meet at National Night Out

Community events, block parties throughout town
By: Steve Archer, Reporter
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Hundreds of Lincoln residents attended dozens of parties Tuesday night as part of National Night Out, an annual universal event promoting strong relationships between police departments and city residents.

Lincoln’s National Night Out activities, in addition to neighborhood block parties, included a family-themed event in the Target parking lot as well as a large party at Lincoln Hills’ Meridians. Also, Lincoln police officers, City Councilmen and city staff toured the assorted parties to visit with residents.

Stephanie Lombardi, the recreation coordinator for the City of Lincoln, said the event at the Target parking lot was the result of a partnership between the Lincoln Police Athletic League, Target and the city of Lincoln Parks and Recreation Department.

“It’s been a great turnout, with a little over 1,200 people so far,” Lombardi said. “Building a stronger community is our goal.”

The party at the Target parking lot featured three bounce-houses and games as well as music by Dr. Rockhole and free face-painting, a free photo-booth and free kettle-corn.

“We’re also holding a raffle every 30 minutes for children,” Lombardi said. “And there are a few non-profit vendors showcasing their services and how they help the community.”

Lincoln City Manager Matt Brower said the city’s support of the event is important.

“We want to take part in making a difference in the community,” Brower said. “We have a list of neighborhood National Night Out parties we have been visiting.

“The councilmen and city staff have been engaging the community about public safety issues and the response has been overwhelmingly positive,” Brower added. “This has been a full-court press on behalf of the city. We’ve received some great feedback from the neighborhood events.”

Acting Lincoln Police Chief Sgt. Brent Craft said he had been visiting neighborhoods since 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.

“We stopped already at Meridians and eight different block parties in Lincoln Hills,” Craft said. “There was a good crowd at Meridians and officers have tried to attend all of the block parties.”

Lincoln Police Officer Steve Krueger said a neighborhood watch group in Lincoln Hills raised more than $4,000 for the Lincoln Police Athletic League.

“Lincoln Hills residents Lauri and Warren English presented us with a check for $4,300, for the Police Athletic League, they raised in just two weeks,” Kreuger said. “It’s hard for us to raise that much money since we don’t have a lot of opportunities for fundraisers. And we are one of the few PALs that don’t charge for events.”

Kreuger said the money would be used for events such as next year’s National Night Out and the annual Shop-With-a-Cop program.

“This money will go to support all of our youth activities,” Kreuger added. “They also gave us eight poster boards full of signatures in support of the police department.”

Tanja Poley, owner of Ten-Four Goods, was in Beermann Plaza collecting signatures in support of the police department from individuals attending the Downtown Lincoln Association’s monthly Food Truck Mob event.

“National Night Out is a good way for Lincoln to show community-wide support for our police department,” Poley said. “We even had one person from Oregon, visiting Lincoln for softball, sign the poster. A lot of people are generally happy to show support for those protecting Lincoln.”

Lincoln City Councilman Stan Nader, attending the Meridians event, said it was a great opportunity for the City Council and the police department to interact with the public.

“We want to encourage our citizens to be part of the team,” Nader said. “They can help keep our community safe by being our eyes and ears and participating in citizens-on-patrol.”

Nader said he was well-received at every stop.

“It speaks of our community,” Nader said. “We care about each other. It’s something I always like to mention, ‘There’s something special about the people of Lincoln.’”

Lincoln Mayor Spencer Short said he was pleased to hear citizens’ concerns during National Night Out.

“We’ve discussed a lot of topics, not strictly law enforcement,” Short said. “It’s been a great way to put faces with names.”