It was perfect weather Saturday for the Omaha Police Department's Safe Night Out in the Northeast Precinct. Hundreds of kids and their parents went for the candy, fun and games, but they left with a lot more.
The night is designed as a safe Halloween where parents don't have to worry so much about their children. It had all the Halloween qualities, candy, toys and fun, but it was done safely on the grounds of the Northeast Police Precinct.
The Safe Night Out also sews the seeds for better understanding and cooperation between police and the public.
Taj Marie Cook patiently waited for her turn in the face painting chair and sat still until the pink flower was done. After that she was free to check out the raffle prizes or candy stations at the precinct because here is a no fear Halloween.
"It's a safe way for them to have fun and to go trick-or-treating and eat candy and I think that is cool for them to have," said Mickayla Zellner, whose son and two nieces will still trick-or-treat on Halloween, but this was a time Mickayla could let her guard down a little.
The 300 to 400 kids that partied at the precinct on Saturday were surrounded by family, friends and police. There was a bouncy house and of course a ton of candy, but also a close-up look at the ERU or SWAT team. It's that interaction that Theola Cooper hopes take root and flourish.
"It is all about building those relationships so if we can get the kids to realize the police are regular people too and get away from the stigma of calling them the 'po po' and to realize it's a trust factor, too."
The police are building trust by providing the community a place where they can go and celebrate with their children without having to worry about the real monsters out there. The kids they win over with candy. "Yes I like it," said Cook. And she will be back next year, too.
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