‘Police officers can be your friend’

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Nicholas Smith, 7, of Rockingham, scales the rock climbing wall during National Night Out festivities Tuesday in downtown Rockingham.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Nicholas Smith, 7, of Rockingham, scales the rock climbing wall during National Night Out festivities Tuesday in downtown Rockingham.

Mayor, others  encourage Junior Police Academy graduates 

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

* Photo gallery – more than 400 pics

ROCKINGHAM — Cop cars surrounded the compound. Uniformed, armed officers, patrolled the scene.

The weapon of choice, however, was a combination of a handshake and a friendly greeting.

Officers with the Rockingham Police Department and Richmond County sheriff’s deputies took part Tuesday in the annual National Night Out from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Cole Plaza in downtown Rockingham. The event was created 30 years ago in order to foster cooperation and camaraderie and trust between law enforcement officers and the residents they’ve sworn to protect and serve.

Twins Nicholas and Noah Smith might be the unofficial ambassadors of the local program. The twin 7-year-olds share a father who happens to be Officer Clyde Smith of the Rockingham PD. The boys are a daily reminder to their friends, and their friends, that officers are regular dads and moms, too.

Between a climbing wall, a dunk tank that doubled as a fundraiser for Richmond County Crime Stoppers, inflatable bounce houses and slides, live music by Hydrenaline and other attractions geared towards youth, the overall mission was a success as kids and parents enjoyed the festivities.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Zoie Hill, 6, of Rockingham, meets Larry the Crash Test Dummy outside City Hall.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Zoie Hill, 6, of Rockingham, meets Larry the Crash Test Dummy outside City Hall.

Among the more serious events of the night was the official graduation of the Rockingham Police Department’s Junior Police Academy. Before being handed their certificates and congratulated City Council members Gene Willard, Denise Sullivan, Rockingham Police Chief Billy Kelly and others, Rockingham Mayor Steve Morris said he hoped at least or two of the 51 cadets might have been inspired to pursue law enforcement as a career.

More important than that, however, Morris said each cadet should remember that “police officers can be your friend. They don’t have to be your enemy.”

Almost everybody, Morris said, might need the help of a law enforcement officer at some time or another. It’s helpful in those situations that there is a degree of mutual trust between the officers and the communities they serve.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Filed in: Featured News, Latest Headlines, Public safety

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