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Jackson police captain: National Night Out ‘about building community’

JACKSON – On Aug. 2, Jackson will join towns in New Jersey and across the nation in a celebration of community during the annual “National Night Out,” America’s Night Out Against Crime.

“It’s all about building community,” said Capt. Mary Nelson, who is coordinating the event for the Jackson Police Department.

National Night Out will take place from 6-9 p.m. Aug. 2 at the Jackson Shopping Plaza (ShopRite) at North County Line and Cook roads.

Sponsored by Jackson PBA 168, the focus of the event is on strengthening neighborhood
cohesiveness and promoting partnerships between police and first responders and
the community.

“It’s typically community organizations,” said Nelson. “We have churches [taking part], we have a pre-kindergarten, the Jackson Library, Cub, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, the municipal alliance, the Moms Club of Jackson, our Moose Lodge, our Elks Lodge.

“Also, fire company stations 54, 55 and 56, Jackson Volunteer First Aid, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary will be there. Most (of the groups) set up a table and hand out informational fliers.

“ShopRite is our main sponsor,” she said, and the business sponsors all of the food, the hot dogs, chips, drinks, ice. Kiwanis Club members will be serving the food.

“Six Flags Great Adventure sponsors a lot of the gifts because we are going to have
games for the kids to play. The Jackson PBA also sponsors a lot of the prizes.

“We are going to have child ID booths, the motorcycle and ATV and bicycle units will
all be out there,” Nelson said. “School resource officers will be doing activities with
the kids.

“We will have a SWAT display, the Special Response Team will have a table, there will
be police cars, firetrucks, ambulances and inflatable rides, as well as games and prizes
for children. We get a big crowd.”

Representatives of Jackson’s fire companies will conduct safety demonstrations and emergency response demonstrations.

“Our community groups like Helping Hands, the Office of Emergency Management and Clean Communities will be there. Chabad of Jackson is going to be there. KAVA Coffee House will be bringing us some kosher treats.

“We are going to have bouncy houses, carnival games and a dunk tank with a
policeman. It’s going to be a great night,” Nelson said. “We are going to have a
DJ and music. We do giveaways where everyone can get a ticket to participate.”

According to the website natw.org, “National Night Out is an annual community-
building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood
camaraderie to make neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live.”

Jackson’s event has grown far beyond its original scale, according to Nelson.

“We get a huge crowd. This National Night Out started out very small many years ago and now-retired police Capt. John Convery turned it into this fantastic event.

“He was commander of the Support Services Division of the police department and this event meant so much to him. He really created it and made it into what it is today.

“This is my first year doing it, but he really just handed me a job already put
together and I just contacted everyone. I still have some work to do, but he really
made it what it is, such a great thing he left us and the township. He wanted it to
carry on,” Nelson said.

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