By JESSICA CRAWFORD
• Daily Leader
From 6 to 10 p.m. Tuesday evening at Blue Bonnet Park, the Liberal Police Department will be hosting its first ever National Night Out. The evening will focus on crime, drug and violence prevention by bringing the community together with local first responders.
Sergeant Jared Ratzlaff said he stumbled upon the idea of National Night Out while gathering information for a local Neighborhood Watch program.
“I found out about this by doing research for Neighborhood Watch about a year ago,” Sgt. Ratzlaff said. “I looked at some different ways that people were getting Neighborhood Watch active in their city and I came across National Night Out.”
Liberal will not be the only community in Southwest Kansas participating in the event, Sgt. Ratzlaff said.
“For Southwest Kansas, it will be Hugoton and Garden City participating in National Night out,” he said. “Then Wichita would be the nearest community involved.”
Along with free food, several events will be taking place to allow for further community participation.
“We are going to be doing a bike parade to start everything off,” Sgt. Ratzlaff said. “We are asking kids to decorate their bikes. They need to come on out to Blue Bonnet Park at a little before 6 p.m. so we can get started right at 6.
“We are going to have a car show and a three-on-three basketball tournament,” he continued. “With both of those we are asking them to be there at 5:30 p.m. for registration purposes. The basketball tournament is a 15-and-up age limit with a team of no more than four people.”
As National Night Out is an event derived from the Neighborhood Watch program, and information on group implementation will be available.
“We are going to have a lot of information for Neighborhood Watch,” Ratzlaff said. “We are actually going to have our one active group that we have. They will be there talking about how they are doing and how they implemented it.
“We will also have the Liberal Area Rape Crisis/Domestic Violence Services there,” he added. “They will be passing out information on what their services are. Seward County Explorers will be there talking about their program and how the kids can get involved in that. The Life Team will also be there.”
Ratzlaff hopes to spur the community’s interest in Neighborhood Watch with the event.
“The main thing we are wanting to accomplish is to get the community to come together as a community and get to know each other,” he said. “Eventually, we want National Night Out to spawn our Neighborhood Watch Program.”