TPD Night Out photo

Danny Henry, 6, of Titusville, hugs detective Tim Russell of the Titusville Police Department in one of the department's holding cells during the National Night Out event on Tuesday.

“The police are so cool and fun to meet,” said Jenna Pasker, a Main Street Elementary student who attended the “National Night Out” event hosted by the Titusville Police Department on Tuesday.

The event allowed local kids and their parents to come out to the police department for a positive interaction with emergency service personnel. In attendance were members from the police, fire and ambulance services who take of the community during crises.

“We got way more support than I could have imagined,” said Titusville Police Department Officer David Brooks. Brooks organized the event. He is in his first year on the force.

Brooks said that the great turnout has all but assured that the event is here to stay. “Hopefully next year we can add more to the event.”

This year, kids were able to tour the station, interact with emergency vehicles and even spend some time in the police detainment cells. When told what kind of people end up in the cells, Jenna Pasker refused to go in saying, “but I’m not a bad kid.”

While the event was advertised to those of all ages, it was a night centered around the youth of Titusville. A steady stream of kids made their way to the police station to interact with the people they see when there’s an emergency.

Brooks was amazed at the reactions he got from the kids who came by. “I was surprised by how many kids say they want to be policeman when they grow up.” This event is part of a larger effort to change the perception of law enforcement in the community.

The Titusville Police Department recently released a video to Facebook announcing their upcoming haunted house. The video, which has been shared almost 100 times, has helped change the way people look at the police.

“Since the video, kids have come here with the expectation to interact and have fun with police,” said Titusville Police Chief Dustin LeGoullon. “Who would’ve ever expected that.”

The emergency service personnel at the event understand that the average interaction with the community involves an emergency and generally negative circumstances, and that this event, as well as their haunted house, is a way to connect with the next generation in a positive way.

Matt Shaffer, of EmergyCare, the Titusville ambulance service, stated that this event is all about building trust. “We don’t want the community to be afraid of us,” said Shaffer. “When they experience an emergency, we want the kids to know that we are actually here to help them, not hurt them.”

Dvorkin can be reached by email at gdvorkin@titusvilleherald.com.

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