National Night Out: hundreds participate in police-community building event in Williamsburg

Staff writer

A pack of 10 James City County Police Department cruisers pulled into the Rolling Meadows neighborhood off DePue Drive Tuesday night around 5 p.m.

But the officers weren’t out to make an arrest; instead they parked their cars next to the community pool and walked into the administration building. They wielded coupons to 7-Eleven for free Slurpees, plastic police hats and gold-foil sheriff’s office stickers for kids.

Thirty-five officers in James City visited 21 communities as part of a country-wide police-community relations program called National Night Out.

For Lamika Meekins, 39, of James City, the event presented an opportunity for her two children, Bryant, 3, and Brooklyn, 4, to meet the police who work in their communities.

It’s the little moments, Meekins said. Both kids met McGruff the Crime Dog, and Meekins asked an officer to impress upon her children how important it is to not unbuckle their seat belts in their booster seats when she drives.

After about 20 minutes, the officers packed up and left for the Foundation Square building in New Town where more than a dozen residents waited for them with wine and desserts.

For Barbara Floyd having the opportunity to meet the police officers who work in her neighborhood makes her feel safe. She and her husband, Skip, retired to Williamsburg from Alexandria 20 years ago after working in the federal government and the U.S. Air Force.

“For the most part, we’re all older in (Foundation Plaza), but it makes everyone feel safer,” Skip Floyd said of National Night Out.

In Williamsburg, the event was moved from its prior location near the Williamsburg Regional Library to the plaza at High Street and the festival was more than twice as big as it was last year, according to coordinator Aundrea Holiday.

About 600 people registered at the food tent to get free supper, but more people milled around to see what services local law enforcement offers and build relationships with officers, according to Williamsburg Police Department spokesman Charles Ericsson.

The National Park Service, Virginia State Police, College of William and Mary Police Department, Williamsburg-James City County Sheriff’s Office and other law enforcement agencies all stood at the ready to answer questions from residents.

Kids with painted faces ran around and played on an inflatable slide while adults played corn hole. Public works employees grilled hamburgers and hot dogs. The event was more like an Old Homes Days in New England or a community festival than anything.

Even so, parents had the opportunity to have their children fingerprinted and have identification cards made. For Michaeline Klob, it gave her time to talk to the police department as she works to create a nightly watch in her neighborhood near Colonial Williamsburg.

National Night Out, Klob said, helps her reconnect with the entire community every year.

But for Klob, Williamsburg has always felt like home.

“(My husband and I) love Williamsburg,” Klob said.

Steve Roberts Jr, srobertsjr@vagazette.com, 757-604-1329, @SPRobertsJr.

Copyright © 2019, The Virginia Gazette
95°