Columbus law enforcement ride out for National Night Out as community outreach

Columbus law enforcement ride out for National Night Out as community outreach

Columbus, GA (WTVM) -  With several officer-involved shootings and violence against police making national headlines lately, local law enforcement took time out Tuesday night to show a different kind of force.

What started as a sunny afternoon to ride out into Columbus' neighborhoods for National Night Out quickly turned to officers questioning if they'd get the chance to even meet residents.

"You know, when those clouds, and all that lightning and thunder came through, I was kind of wondering," said Lt. Brett Stanelle of the Columbus State University Police Department. "But we've had a very warm reception at every place that we've been."

Groups of law enforcement, which included their families, drove off to meet and greet grateful citizens.

One convoy traveled around south Columbus, making stops at the Chester Recreational Center and the Holly Hills area, where neighborhood watch group members had a warm plate of food ready for the men and women in blue.

"They are unsung heroes," said Ann Porter, vice president of the Holly Hills Neighborhood Watch. "They do so much that the community does not know about, and we pray every time they go out."

Cpl. Angela Florence with the Columbus Police Department said the most important aspect of National Night Out is creating personal relationships with people in neighborhoods; in short, she said, community policing.

"When we talk to neighbors and the citizens of Columbus," Florence said,  "we want to make sure that they realize that we're human, we want to be proactive in our neighborhoods to make sure the city's safe."

Florence, who's also a DARE program instructor, said she wants to have a specific impact on local children, so they have a positive association with police officers.

"Definitely love the kids," Florence said. 

As the day winded down for this group of police at Lindsay Creek, Lt. Stanelle said he won't soon forget how much he and his fellow officers felt appreciated by the people they protect and serve.

"It's great for us to be able to get out into these neighborhoods, get this true sense of community and fellowship with the people that we serve," Lt. Stanelle said.

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