SKOWHEGAN – Law enforcement came from all over Somerset County for National Night Out in Skowhegan, an event held across the country for law enforcement and their communities to come together.
Tuesday night’s event, held at Coburn Park, was the first time Skowhegan had hosted.
“We want people to approach us, especially the younger generation that you see all around us,” said Skowhegan Police Chief David Bucknam. “We want them to be able to come up to us, we want them to trust us.”
Chief Bucknam said ten law enforcement agencies from around Somerset County came out. Event organizers set up lawn games and gave out food. Maine State Police also put on a K-9 show.
“I’m probably gonna get bit by a dog at some point because I did volunteer for that”, joked Chief Bucknam, “but hey it’s all for the kids right?”
The kids did seem to enjoy it. They took part in activities like making bird houses, watching the movie Coco, and tackling an obstacle course.
“I wasn’t scared,” said Beckett Hjort, 5, who finished the course.
The event, focused on the community, was also sponsored by Somerset Public Health, and their work to prevent kids from using drugs across Somerset County.
“We’re looking for ways to engage kids in the community and make them feel like they’re part of the community,” said Matt L’ Italien, who serves as the director for Somerset Public Health.
Parents said they took their kids out to have some fun, but also to get them comfortable with law enforcement.
One woman, with a little girl, said she wanted to “make it so she’s not afraid to see the policeman, or go and see them if she needs help.”
For a community that has been through a lot in recent months, it was a way to come together for something positive.
“We are one big team,” said Chief Bucknam. “Skowhegan, Somerset County, everybody that’s going to be here, we all work together. And there’s just so much negativity out there, we don’t want that. We want to be out here having a great time.”
Chief Bucknam said he expects to host National Night Out again next year, and make it even bigger and better.