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National Night Out continues to build trust in the community

By Christopher DeGusto

Designed as a country-wide celebration and gathering between communities and city, state, and federal law enforcement officers, National Night Out in Revere boasted a myriad of professionals, citizens, and even animals.

Hosted at two locations, Whelan School Park and Curtis Park at the Garfield School, members of the Revere community were able to enjoy a barbeque and refreshments; children played in inflatable bounce houses, and at the adjoining playground and basketball courts.

With many law enforcement officers on hand, there was ample opportunity for members of the community to meet local members of the fire department, speak with state sanctioned dive team members, and witness specially trained police canines in simulated action.

“Folks can see a little bit of the equipment that gets used in our [Police Department]. And at its very basic level, it’s about building trust in the community,” said Mayor Brian Arrigo in an interview at Curtis Park with Advocate on Tuesday. “Our police department has done an incredible job over the last couple years of building that trust, and creating an environment that the whole community and every resident can feel comfortable working with.”

Some of the equipment that was present throughout the evening were Revere police cruisers, fire trucks, and emergency medical service vehicles. At the Whelan School Park, a regionally utilized Lenco Bearcat was present. Children entered the armored vehicle and were able to stand tall out of the rooftop opening, putting their eyesight well above the crowd.

At Curtis Park Police Captain Dennis Collyer spoke about the canine at the field.

“The dog that’s [here] is a dog that’s cross-trained in explosive detection. This one can find a firearm and he can smell explosives,” said Collyer. “It’s a very unique asset that we have.”

One canine handler stated that this particular dog has been able to find multiple firearms, including a semi-automatic handgun, and a rusted shotgun that investigation was unable to detect for around a year.

Kevin Baker, a sergeant with the underwater recovery unit department of the Massachusetts state police explained to a small group of kids how his diving equipment worked. Baker said that his equipment can range in weight from 60 to 80 pounds. Baker, who works in the Attorney General’s office, is in his fourth year one the dive team, which he said conducts around 400 missions each year collectively, primarily focused on security and recovery.

“Everybody on our team started diving recreationally. I dove when I was in college – always in the Caribbean – never in this cold water. But one of the guys I work with strongly encouraged me to give it a try, and I love it,” said Baker. “I’ve been on the State Police 18 years and I wish I joined the dive team when I was brand new.”

Two members of the city’s community, Skyllar Mullvaney and Jan Dumas, said that the organization they work for, Horses and Heroes, has a mission to “keep the memory of an officer alive.” She said that in the past, horses have been donated to UMASS Amherst, and that one will hopefully be donating a horse to the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), who was present with one at Curtis Park.

Captain Amy O’Hara spoke with Advocate about the significance of the annual gathering and how it affects the city.

“[National Night Out] is about meeting people in the community we don’t know, and to not only build relationships but lasting relationships,” said O’Hara. “A lot of youth come here and it’s really important for us to build those relationships with [them] and let them know that, yes we’re the police officers, but we can also be mentors as well.”

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