39 law enforcement agencies recognized at Bay County National Night Out

Published: Aug. 2, 2022 at 10:43 PM CDT
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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - No matter what badge or patch they wear, law enforcement from all over the country came together Tuesday night for what’s called National Night Out.

“These types of events give us a chance to get together with the citizens in a fun environment and have a good time and get to know one another,” Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford said.

A good time for both law enforcement and citizens since the event’s inception in 1984.

“So we’re here obviously to be a part of the outreach, to be a part of the community to show, “hey, we’re human. We’re here to educate, but we’re here to have fun while you learn,” Florida Highway Patrol Troop A Lieutenant Jason King said.

We’re told 39 agencies attended, from city police and fire departments to the Bay County Sheriff’s Office, to the military.

“And there are agencies here that people may not even know and the agencies they may never have thought about. There’s military police here, there’s federal police here, game wardens are here, fire trucks, EMS, Department of Corrections,” Panama City Police Chief Mark Smith said. “Everyone’s here to educate and show and to talk with the community. To build the bonds with the community, this is what it’s all about.”

An education even the tiniest of four-legged friends can help teach when it comes to the Panama City Police Street Crimes Unit, as well as the furry friends you don’t want to mess with in the Beach Police K9 Division.

The community could also see firsthand the gear officials use on a daily basis.

“Just to see the kids’ faces light up and maybe a future deputy seeing a piece of equipment and realizing that that’s what they want to do with their life. It’s just a great time,” said Ford.

But overall, it’s an event that the men and women in uniform would consider to be humanizing for those in law enforcement.

“We’re here to show that. We’re here to show that we have feelings, we have families, and we care about the community,” said King.

A community local law enforcement works hard to protect every single day.

“We work for the community. We’re here to serve them. We want to please them. We want to do the best job we can for them and this gives us an opportunity to also say thank you to them,” said Smith.

Law enforcement officials said it was a great time to answer any questions from the community. The event held for the first time at Gulf Coast State College also included games, prizes, and food for all.

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