'Communication is the key': Law enforcement, residents connect at Jim Miller Park

·2 min read

Aug. 4—MARIETTA — Cobb County law enforcement agencies bonded with community members this week at the 38th annual National Night Out.

Those who arrived at Jim Miller Park for the festivities were greeted by various public safety officials, from U.S. marshals to firefighters. Attendees wearing a uniform and badge had one goal — to help bridge the gap between citizens and law enforcement.

"I think it's very important," said Brandy Brown of Lithia Springs. "The officers protect us and look out for us. We need to join together with them so we can make the city and the place around us a safe environment."

Brown and her family were gathered by the slide on the fairground lot to watch a helicopter land on the grass. The evening saw foot traffic, as well as vehicular traffic from different law enforcement vehicles passing by. Guests enjoyed games, food, live music, and interactive activities like the chance to tour a military helicopter.

The annual National Night Out connects millions of families across the country to their local law enforcement officers. On the first Tuesday of August, communities host events across the United States.

The origins date to 1984, when the first night out was held outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, according to National Night Out's website. Matt Peskin, a neighborhood watch volunteer, founded the National Association of Town Watch to connect neighborhood watch groups in different communities.

Law enforcement agencies in attendance at Jim Miller Park included the Cobb County Police Department, Cobb County Sheriff's Office, Austell Police Department, park rangers, Georgia State Patrol, Kennesaw State University Police Department, and the U.S Marshals. The importance of community building, especially through communication, is one thing local law enforcement hopes to accomplish.

"I think if people communicate well, they shouldn't have any issues," said Chief Deputy Sheriff Rhonda Anderson. "I think communication is the key to everything."

Asked about challenges addressing crime in the county, Anderson echoed her former statement.

"It's all about communication. Citizens are afraid to approach law enforcement to speak out," she said. "If they feel that they can communicate well with us, or just feel relaxed with us, then they'll come to us with any issues that they have."