By JESSICA CRAWFORD
• Leader & Times
Last summer, National Night Out, sponsored by the City of Liberal’s First Responders, surpassed expectations by leaps and bounds when three times the expected number of participants came out to “take back their community.”
Sgt. Jared Ratzlaff of the Liberal Police Department addressed the Liberal City Commission Tuesday evening to request $3,970 of 1-cent sales tax funding for Liberal’s second annual National Night Out.
“National Night Out is national event celebrated on the first Tuesday of August,” Ratzlaff said. “Last year, the Liberal Emergency Services hosted this for the first time. It was more successful than we ever imagined. This year, we are asking to hold that event again and in order to do so, we are asking for some funds from the 1-cent sales tax.”
There are four important goals associated with the National Night Out, Ratzlaff said.
“It heightens crime awareness and drug prevention awareness throughout the city, it generates support and participation in our local anti-crime networks – such as Neighborhood Watch, it also strengthens neighborhood spirits and police-community partnerships. The biggest thing – it sends a message to criminals that citizens are taking back their community.”
Ratzlaff said last year, the National Night Out Committee planned for approximately 500 people – that number actually tripled.
“We had about 1,500 to 1,800 people,” he said. “We got those numbers off the food that we served – we served 1,200 pieces of meat. We also had surveys from 210 different families that filled out surveys that night. This year, we are planning on about 2,000 people – anywhere from 2,000 to 2,500 people are expected.”
Although Ratzlaff is requesting funding for the entire event, he believes donations will be raised throughout the community. Donations reached $590 last year, he said. A total of $1,250 was funded by the 1-cent sales tax.
“We are asking for community involvement, even more than we did last year,” he said. “We are asking for church groups, civic groups, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts – those type of groups.”
The National Night Out Committee will be soon seeking donations in order to provide the community with unity and information. The No. 1 goal of the committee, Ratzlaff said, is to “reduce crime and fear of crime in the City of Liberal.”
The commission unanimously approved the funding of the event by 1-cent sales tax funds.