National Night Out is a Westbury-New Cassel tradition
Toss a Frisbee with Nassau County’s top cop? Certainly. Pose for a picture with the county’s chief law enforcement official? Ditto. Rub shoulders and gain some rare face time with elected officials? Absolutely.
It’s all part of an evening’s worth of fun, festivities and crime/drug prevention-awareness raising that has come to define National Night Out. The place was Martin Bunky Reid Park in the New Cassel area of Westbury, and the occasion was the Town of North Hempstead’s 35th iteration of the nationwide event on Aug. 6.
Ranged along the edges of the park were tables from community organizations offering information about health providers and educational resources. There were musical performances from the Yes We Can Community Band under the leadership of Michael Carpenter, free giveaways, refreshments and recreation.
According to a press release, the Westbury event was one of 12 held across the county, which were designed to:
• Heighten crime and drug prevention awareness
• Generate support for, and participation in, local anti-crime programs
• Strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships
• Send a message to criminals letting them know that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back
Commish Weighs In
“It brings law enforcement and community together,” Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder told The Westbury Times. “We’re always working on the same thing. We’re always on the same side. [We want to make people aware] that we’re the good guys. And that’s why community relations is so important. That’s what we’re trying to push out here today.”
A few days hence would mark the anniversary of the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, MO, that sparked riots and a painful examination of police interactions with African American men.
The commissioner, without mentioning the incident, said his department had good relations in the minority community.
“You know why? Because we build our relationships. We work very hard at them,” he observed. “It’s not an easy thing to do. It’s a very diverse county. We try through our community affairs and POP (problem-oriented policing) cops to get out into the community to say hello and let residents know that we’re on the same side and work together toward solutions.”
Ryder added, “You won’t see that water dumping thing in Nassau County and I don’t think you will.”
He was referring to videotaped incidents where NYC cops were “attacked” by having water from buckets thrown at them.
The commissioner said that in one of the key areas for problem solving—cooperation from neighbors and witnesses—his department does well.
“We don’t automatically get respect because we wear a uniform. We have to earn it,” Ryder affirmed.
Pols In Attendance
Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth, Councilmember Viviana Russell, Town Clerk Wayne Wink, and Receiver of Taxes Charles Berman attended, along with Nassau County Legislator Siela Bynoe (D-Westbury).
District Attorney Madeline Singas, Comptroller Jack Schnirman, state Senator Anna Kaplan (D-Great Neck), Assemblyman Ed Ra (R-Franklin Square) and Assemblyman Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove) were among the notables on hand.
Representing the Westbury School District Board of Education were Robert Troiano, president, and members Robin Bolling and Pless Dickerson (who was playing the clarinet in the Yes We Can Community Center Band). Westbury Schools Superintendent Eudes Budhai was also present.
Bosworth praised emcee Nellie Taylor Walthrust of the North Shore Child and Family Guidance Center-The Leeds Place for her many years of guiding the event.
“You do a wonderful job every year. You’re the glue that keeps it together,” Bosworth told her.
The supervisor also gave kudos to Russell and Bynoe and their staffs for their hard work in putting the complex event together.
In addition, the staff and crew of the park were thanked for their part in making the Night Out a success.
“We’re celebrating our 35th anniversary,” Bosworth observed. “That’s quite an accomplishment and deserves applause.”
The supervisor quoted Westbury NAACP President Leslie Davis: “Unity in the community—and that’s what this event is all about.”
Russell called the event, “a model for the rest of the nation” and went on to thank a long list of sponsors, including Applebee’s (which provided free hamburgers), Target, North Shore Child and Family Guidance Center and DPR Scrap Metal.
“This is one of the highlights of the summer,” Bynoe said. “To come here in fellowship with all the community organizations, with our community members, with our young people. We are stronger and better together.”
Intoning prayers were Father Eddie Alleyne of the Episcopal Church of the Advent in Westbury, Pastor Tony Stanganelli of St. Brigid’s Roman Catholic Church in Westbury, Salvation Army Lieutenant Jean Sainteme (in Creole) and Habeeb Ahmed, president of the Islamic Center of Long Island in Westbury.