Jun 05, 2023
Wheeling Police Department Hosts National Night Out
Aug 6, 2023 Photos by Alan Olson Volunteers distribute food and drinks at the National Night Out event Tuesday evening. Police cruisers and motorcycles, SWAT team trucks, K9 units and more filled the
Aug 6, 2023
Photos by Alan Olson Volunteers distribute food and drinks at the National Night Out event Tuesday evening.
Police cruisers and motorcycles, SWAT team trucks, K9 units and more filled the Wheeling Park Ice Rink as the Wheeling Police Department hosted its annual National Night Out.
The National Night Out is a community-building campaign that takes place on the first Tuesday in August, allowing communities across the country to interact with and learn from police officers through demonstrations of what they do on the job.
Wheeling Police Chief Shawn Schwertfeger explained that the Wheeling Police’s version of the event is unique because they have a “static display” while other agencies usually travel around neighborhoods with their equipment to give demonstrations.
Schwertfeger said he prefers partnering with Wheeling Park to use its skating rink, as it allows them to have all their equipment in one place, which allows citizens to “see a lot more,” including K9 demonstrations and full SWAT team truck display.
While Schwertfeger’s favorite demonstration of the night was the police drone, he explained that the kids who attend the event typically prefer riding one of the squad’s motorcycles or cars.
Another favorite amongst attendees was the K9 unit demonstration, where the force’s dogs search for narcotics and explosive powder hidden under cones.
K9 Unit member Sergeant Jason Hupp explained that they also demonstrated an “apprehension,” where one of their dogs bites a K9 unit member in a decoy suit on command.
“People sometimes wonder how the dogs work and what they do because they don’t get to see them in action in real life,” said Hupp on the importance of the demonstration. “We want to show how much training these dogs go through.”
Cpl. John Mackenzie echoed the importance of informing residents, particularly kids, about law enforcement as he gave demonstrations of the SWAT team equipment. Kids were able to use different tools utilized by SWAT team members during operations, including vests, rams, gas masks and ballistic shields.
“One of my favorite things to do is actually get out and talk to the community, especially the kids, and educate them on how we use the equipment and the dogs,” said Mackenzie. “It’s important to educate them so they’re not scared of us, so they know if they need help, we’ll be there.”
As residents gain a deeper understanding of law enforcement techniques and tools, Schwertfeger hopes that they are able to understand the “importance of the police and community coming together.”
“We’re happy to be spending time with a lot of young people, they are really the focus,” he added. “It’s been a good evening for the Wheeling Police Department.”
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