National Night Out returns to FD, this time downtown

‘We wanted to have a location that was a little more centralized’

The annual National Night Out event, which provides the community the opportunity to interact one on one with law enforcement, will be returning to Fort Dodge in early August, this time downtown.

This year’s National Night Out will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. on Aug. 7.

Admission is free.

Fort Dodge Police Officer Joelyn Johnson, who serves as one of the department’s school and community resource officers, said this year’s National Night Out will be very similar to previous years.

“We do have almost all the agencies that participated last year already confirmed in attendance,” Johnson said.

The biggest change from last year’s National Night Out is the location. This year it will be held at the Fort Dodge City Square, just in front of the Fort Dodge Public Library.

Johnson said there were a number of factors that led the Police Department to decide to move the location to the City Square from Snell-Crawford Park, which is where it was held last year.

“We wanted to have a location that was a little more centralized,” she said. “We wanted to have parking a little bit more available.”

There is limited parking in the Snell-Crawford Park area, and Johnson said some people who participated last year had to park uphill and walk downhill to the park.

“This provides a number of city parking lots that people can park in,” Johnson said.

However, there will be some parking restrictions in place.

“There will be no parking from Fifth Street east around the square,” she said. “Central will be blocked off right there at the square and it will go around the square to Fifth Street to the north of the library. Traffic will be blocked off there as well.”

One of the primary goals for National Night Out is to “recognize the community partnerships with the local and state law enforcement agencies, and so we’re also putting an effort on crime prevention programs to help encourage people to get involved and kind of a work as a community (as a) whole preventing crime.”

In addition to the Police Department, participating agencies include the Webster County Sheriff’s Department, Iowa State Patrol, Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, Webster County Conservation, and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

Johnson added that it’s not just law enforcement agencies that are participating. Other agencies that are taking part include the Webster County attorney’s office, Community Health Center of Fort Dodge, Webster County Crime Stoppers and the Domestic/Sexual Assault Outreach Center.

“It’s about that partnership to help keep the community safe,” Johnson said. “And I think a number of agencies in our community play an active role in that.”

Food will be provided by Hy-Vee, Target and the Webster County Pork Producers, which will be serving pork burgers.

Additionally, there will be ice cream served by the Dariette.

Johnson said each agency will have an activity for the public to try. Among them include the Fort Dodge Fire Department bringing a smoke house to demonstrate how to escape from a smoke-filled home, and the Fort Dodge/Webster County Special Emergency Response Team allowing people to try on the gear they wear during search warrant executions.

Mascots will also be present, including McGruff the Crime Dog, Sparky from the Fort Dodge Fire Department, and Cell Phone Sally from the Webster County Communications Center.

Larry Dunbar will be putting on a magic show and there will also be a K9 demonstration from area law enforcement agencies.

“We hope that everybody in the community would join us in this annual celebration,” Johnson said.