GRPD uses National Night Out to connect, curb crime

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Grand Rapids Police Department teamed up with several churches and community organizations Tuesday for the 34th annual National Night Out.

The event spurs community gatherings where first responders and neighbors can get to know each other.

Police say National Night Out is important in helping them break down barriers in communities and solve crimes.

“Unfortunately, we live in a society where crime happens on a daily basis,” said Sgt. Greg Alcala with GRPD.

So far this year, Grand Rapids has experienced 10 homicides and more than 160 gun related assaults. The number of homicides has already surpassed the city’s total case count for 2018.

Alcala says police can use National Night Out to strengthen community policing efforts, making people more likely to cooperate when something happens in their neighborhood.

“We want to see safe sidewalks and we want to see neighbors grow together,” said Pastor Nate DeJong McCarron with Fuller Avenue Christian Reformed Church.

DeJong Mccarron says his church is working to be an active part of the change. They’re hosting one of 14 NNO events in Grand Rapids this year.

“As a church, we’re called to love our neighbors. And violence has no place here, hate has no place in it and harm has no place in it,” added Dejong McCarron.

Marian Barrera-Young with the Baxter Neighborhood Association is helping to throw a National Night Out event in Joe Taylor Park, which was the scene of a shooting in June.

Barrera-Young says one of her goals is to build a safer community is to get rid of “snitch culture.”

“Don’t wait until you become a victim or someone in your family becomes a victim before you want to talk about it. We have to get out of that mindset. When you see something, say something,” said Barrera-Young.

“We need to change that outlook because we’re all in this together, trying to eliminate the things that are happening,” said Alcala.

Several National Night Out events are offering free food, educational seminars and games, including the following community celebrations in Grand Rapids:

Joe Taylor Park, 1030 Bemis St. SE
6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Activities: Music by Main Street, prevention activities, face painting, games for youth, ice cream and pizza
Contact: Marian Barrera-Young, 616.821.3740 or

Briggs Park, 350 Knapp St. NE
6 p.m. to 8 p.m.Activities: Free swimming until 7 p.m., historical photos for Creston Neighborhood Association’s 40th anniversary taken throughout the evening, dinner from 6:15 to 7:45 p.m., games and prevention education presentations
Activities: Free swimming until 7 p.m., historical photos for Creston Neighborhood Association’s 40th anniversary taken throughout the evening, dinner from 6:15 to 7:45 p.m., games and prevention education presentations
Contact: Kymie Spring, 616.454.7900, or

Cherry Park, 725 Cherry St. SE
6 to 8 p.m.
Activities: Games for children, storytelling, yoga, popcorn
Contact: Maggi Rivera, 616.454.9097

Sigsbee Park, 431 Benjamin Ave. SE
5 to 7 p.m.
Activities: Bike safety, fire safety, smokehouse, games for kids, food and drinks
Contact: Don Lee, 616.451.3025 or

Fuller Avenue Church, 1239 Fuller Ave. SE
6 to 7:30 p.m.
Activities: Dinner at 6 p.m. and activities for all ages
Contact: Sheryl Luth, 616.241.1679

Garfield Park, 334 Burton St. SE
5 to 8 p.m.
Activities: Field activities, storytelling, puppeteer, craft table and live performances
Contact: Fran Dalton, 616.241.2443 or

Heartside Park, 301 Ionia Ave. SW
6 to 8 p.m.
Activities: Food, games, meet your neighbors and family activities
Contact: Alysha at or Mallory at

Lincoln Park Lodge, 1120 Bridge St. NW (entrance off Marion NW)
6 to 8 p.m.
Activities: Storytelling, resource tables, roaming zoo, balloon animals, food trucks (tacos and ice cream)
Contact: Monica Hall or Marie Cimochowicz, 616.456.9190

Beckwith Hills Christian Reformed Church, 2100 Chelsea Drive NE
6 to 8 p.m.
Activities: Games, face painting, music by DJ Don, sub sandwiches and ice cream
Contact: Betsy Hernandez, 616.304.7245 or

1480 Kalamazoo Ave. SE (between Amplify and Standard Kitchens)
Sunday, Aug. 11
12:30 to 4 p.m.
Activities: Fire truck, police cruiser, live entertainment, games, face painting, hot dogs, hamburgers and cotton candy
Contact: Pastor Kenneth Haskins, 616.248.2848 or

Grand Rapids Christian Elementary School playground, 1050 Iroquois Drive SE
6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Activities: Bounce house, face painting and ice cream social
Contact: Emily VanVels, 616.885.6701 or

Clemente Park, 546 Rumsey St. SW
5 – 7 p.m.
Activities: Traveling zoo, fire truck, promotional tables, giveaways, live music, fruit cups, corn on the cob, empanada bites and freeze pops
Contact: Rocio Rodriguez or Asucena Cervantes, 616.243.2489 or

Richmond Park, 1101 Richmond St. NW
5 to 7 p.m.
Activities: Food, games, activities for the entire family, vendors and door prizes
Contact: Chi Benedict, 616.451.0150 or

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