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RHPD hosts National Night Out

Richmond Hill is a city known for its fun events for the whole family. Thursday is no exception.
From 6-9 p.m., the community is invited to J.F. Gregory Park for the Richmond Hill Police Department’s National Night Out. This is the fifth year Richmond Hill is participating in the national event.
The event will include live music by Dr. Dan and the Looters, a local jazz and funk band. The community is encouraged to bring blankets or chairs for watching the band and an umbrella in case of rain.
“National Night Out is a Community Police Partnership that promotes the community working together as a whole to reduce crime,” said Sgt. Susan Willis, event coordinator. “RHPD uses National Night Out to show our appreciation to our citizens and showcase our community resources and programs.”
The event started five years ago when Marilyn Hodges, who was a Richmond Hill City Council member at the time, lent support for the event. She made a request to the City Council and Police Chief Billy Reynolds to kick off Richmond Hill’s participation in the event.
“It brings the public and first responders/public safety into a closer relationship,” said Cpl. Jon Zirpolo, community resource specialist. “People who wouldn’t otherwise come talk to us get to come out, meet us, see what we do, who we are and what type of equipment we use.”
Zirpolo said the police department and other public safety agencies are in the community to “serve and protect.” But many people only see the “protect” part of his job.
“A lot of people only see the ‘protect’ part, where we are running around chasing bad guys,” Zirpolo said. “National Night Out is a part of where we ‘serve.’ It’s a fun day to relax, have some fun and eat some free food. It all goes to help solidify a trusting relationship so when someone notices something illegal or potentially dangerous, they will call us and trust us to handle it.”
This year, the Richmond Hill Police Department and City of Richmond Hill are offering inflatables, a dunk booth and a rock wall provided by Fun Time Amusements for families to enjoy.
Zirpolo said his favorite part of the event is the dunk booth. His shift always volunteered for the dunk booth.
“Who doesn’t love getting to dunk cops and not worry about going to jail shortly thereafter?” Zirpolo asked. “Also, you get a doughnut if you dunk the cop. Who doesn’t love doughnuts? I do.”
This year, Zirpolo will not be at the dunking booth because he has to work. However, he encouraged the community to “show some love” to the other police officers at the booth.
Families will also be offered free hot dogs, chips and drinks sponsored by Coca Cola. Willis said they plan to give out an estimated 2,500 hot dogs to the public during National Night Out. Vendors, selling crafts, food and other items will also be at the event.
A free raffle will be available to participants. Names will be drawn every 15 minutes.
“Raffle items vary with things like gift cards, school supplies, gift baskets, T-shirts and more,” Willis said. “All raffle items are donated, and the raffle is free. A raffle ticket can be picked up at the welcome tent.”
During National Night Out, bicycles will be auctioned off.
“The bicycle auction is conducted yearly according to Georgia Law and is a way for RHPD to put the found property bicycles back into use,” Willis said. “These bicycles are property that is not recovered by the owners.”
The event will also include face painting, martial arts demonstrations, a hot dog eating contest and safety displays from multiple emergency service agencies.
Free parking will be available at J.F. Gregory Park. Pets on leashes are allowed to attend the event.

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