ENGLEWOOD — Englewood mother Kelly Stone encouraged her daughter, Ava Fisher, as she explored the inside of a Sarasota County SWAT vehicle at the National Night Out Against Crime at the Englewood Sports Complex Tuesday.
“I heard about the event on Facebook,” Stone said. “It sounded like a fun night out for kids as well as adults.”
The complex, at 1300 S. River Road, Englewood, hosted the annual Sarasota County event for the first time. Night Out introduced residents to various service organizations and first responder resources throughout the county.
George Padalik, a Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office corrections deputy from North Port, brought his family to the event.
“It’s great for the community,” Padalik said. “Everybody gets to see every type of department they have, like the sheriffs who show you crime prevention. I want my kids not to be a victim. So I want them to learn what to look for and who to stay away from and they do a great job here. They get to ask people questions. They tell and teach them things they don’t know. To me that’s awesome.”
Representatives from area law enforcement included the Florida Highway Patrol, Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office and Englewood Fire Department. North Port Police Department. K-9 and mounted patrol units were also on hand.
“It’s neat seeing the dogs and horses,” Stone said.
Jennifer Perry, manager of the Elsie Quirk Library in Englewood, didn’t pass up the opportunity to promote the library at the event.
“It’s great to see all the organizations out here and all the great stuff being done,” Perry said. “The horses outside are cool. We just like to be part of the community and help. It’s really exciting that we finally have one in Englewood this year. I think the turnout’s great. I hope they do it again here.”
Ken Camara, firefighter/EMT with Englewood Fire Department, said the event fits in with the department’s promotion of Fire Prevention Month in October where members visit area schools to teach CPR and safety.
“It’s great to be mingling with part of the community,” Camara said. “We don’t get to do that when it’s a good thing. We’re usually there if it’s a bad day for somebody. To be here on a good day is great, especially meeting all the sheriff’s officers and everybody.”
Englewood Fire demonstrated an extraction on a damaged Chevy Cavalier.
Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight said having the event in Englewood is part of the goal to provide an opportunity for different areas of the county to host.
“(Night Out) is to show everybody in the county the Sheriff’s Office, the county government and fire department,” Knight said. “We belong to the entire county not just one geographic area of the county. It was important to me as sheriff when I took over to make sure that we rotated this (event) around and make sure everybody in the geographic area of the county had an opportunity to come and see us.”
Knight said events like Night Out are important because relationships are enhanced with the community in face-to-face, one-on-one connections rather than through email or over the phone.
“We kind of work as a team to the best of our abilities,” he said. “It’s not just the uniformers here to talk to them, but everybody else in the community who is here to talk from the government. It’s important.”