With the exception of last year’s COVID-19 caused cancellation, Pembroke’s been doing this National Night Out/ Back to School Bash thing in one form or another since 1990.
That’s according to Pembroke Public Safety Director Bill Collins, who calls the Night Out a way for law enforcement to get to know the community and the community to get to know law enforcement.
Plenty of people got to know plenty of people Tuesday night, as a crowd estimated in excess of 350 people showed up – and organizers handed out some 300 bookbags filled with school supplies and more.
Those came in large part from a $5,000 donation from Canoochee EMC, according to Wendy Sims Shuman, director of Bryan County Family Connection.
Sims was there a ton of support from a number of organizations, ranging from the Pembroke Downtown Development Authority to the Bryan County Sheriff ’s Office, the Pembroke Fire Department, the United Way and various auxiliaries.
Tuesday’s event at the J. Dixie Harn Community Center included COVID-19 vaccinations, and outside there were vendors from a wide variety of agencies, ranging from the Bryan County Health Department and Bryan County’s Opioid Prevention Program to the Pembroke Library and Bryan County High School Booster Club, Bryan County Head Start and more in between.
While school is the focus of this latest incarnation, the National Night Out has its roots in connecting cops with the community as a way to prevent crime.
Those early days included walks by police through various neighborhoods, and both Collins and Sheriff Mark Crowe recalled participating in those early events.
They said they see the current evolution of Pembroke’s National Night Out into a combination Back to School event as a way to let police and the public get to know one another in a more relaxed setting.
“It’s a way and a setting for our officers to be more visible to the community, and for them to know we’re here to serve them,” Collins said. “It’s another way of trying to be available to our citizens.”