When the Payson Police Department decided to participate in the National Night Out event for the first time Aug. 2, they didn’t know if any residents would show up, much less that they would win an award for their outstanding participation.
But more than 4,000 Rim Country residents turned out for the event, and a dozen agencies donated their time and information, said Kim Becker, organizer and executive assistant with the PPD.
The National Association of Town Watch (NATW) recognized the department for its participation in the 25th Annual National Night Out crime, drug and violence prevention program.
Becker reported that around $3,800 worth of toys were given away to children who showed up at the daylong event in Green Valley Park.
Chief Don Engler said with the first year’s success under the department’s belt, they plan to participate in the event again this year.
When asked if the department received any specific tips or solved any crimes from the event, Engler said it would be hard to pinpoint specific cases.
“It is hard to qualify what we got in return from the event, but the benefits will be long-standing for the community,” he said.
The event was a time for residents to go outside their homes, turn on their lights, lock the doors and meet their neighbors, Becker said. The Aug. 2 event in the park included a chili cook-off, poster contest, climbing wall, fishing pond, toy walk, dunk tank, police vs. firefighters tricycle relay race, diaper derby and petting zoo.
Becker said she sent NATW a binder that documented everything the department did for the event, including the number of participants, groups contacted and block parties.
Payson was ranked 40th in the nation with cities of similar size.