By: Michael Campbell, News Editor
11:24 a.m. | August 10, 2017
DINWIDDIE – For many people, a weekday evening sees them kicking off their shoes and preparing for an evening inside, but that was not the case last Tuesday as dozens of communities stepped outside to build relationships and interact with local law enforcement during this year’s National Night Out event.
In Dinwiddie, National Night Out has become a tradition in the county as several communities, such as West Petersburg, the Rohoic Wood Apartments, the Town of McKenney, and the area of Keelers Mill Road in DeWitt, all took part in the national event that serves to turn neighbors into friends and help them link up with their local law enforcement for safer communities all year round.
Last Tuesday, Dinwiddie Sheriff’s Office, led by Sheriff D.T. Adams, was out in full force across the county’s 500-square miles visiting each of Dinwiddie’s block parties.
For Adams, the National Night Out event is a key part of the department’s community policing efforts.
“It’s an interaction between the neighbors themselves who live in the area with police to make their neighborhood a safer community,” he said. “This sends a message to the criminal element that the citizens have had enough and they want to make their community a better place.”
Dinwiddie joined over 16,000 other communities nationally for the event that aims to promote police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live.
According to the national organizer’s website, over 100 different communities in the Commonwealth held some form of a National Night Out event last Tuesday, including the Tri-Cities and neighboring Prince George, who had over 30 individual block parties across their county.
As Adams spent time connecting with those living at Rohoic Wood Apartments just off Duncan and Boydton Plank roads, he talked about how Dinwiddie has embraced community policing and what goes into their efforts to foster positive relationships with the community.
“I have two community relations officers that are assigned to the neighborhood watch and community events in the county who do nothing but reach out to the community, organizing those watches, going to local businesses and talking with them and attending community events,” he said.
Adams added that he practices an open-door policy at his office inside the sheriff’s office, stressing the importance of direct communication with the community at large.
“Any citizen can walk in or call me on my cell phone and they know they can talk to me anytime they have a problem,” the sheriff said. “I have an open line of communication with the citizens and I encourage my deputies to do the same by suggesting they stop and talk with people as they move through the community.”
One of the direct methods utilized by the sheriff’s office is their bicycle patrol, which has resumed operations this year, and regular community walks where he and members of the department go door-to-door to the county’s various subdivisions and talk to residents directly, something Adams says is invaluable to their policing efforts and has seen positive reception from the community.
“Many of the residents appreciate it and they welcome us in for something to drink or talk with us about problems in the community,” he said. “It’s truly a fact-finding mission every time we walk the subdivisions and the face-to-face communication you get through that is really the best.”
While National Night Out is one of the department and county’s biggest initiatives, Adams detailed many of the other community policing programs the county’s law enforcement arm is involved in, including school resource officer program, the Dinwiddie TRIAD, which serve the county’s senior citizen population, their faith-based connections where deputies often speak to youth groups, senior citizens groups, or vacation bible schools at the county’s various churches, and their K-9 units, which are a hit with the county’s younger children.
“Our deputies love going to the schools and churches demonstrating the K-9 unit and the bloodhound is such a lovable and friendly dog that people just go crazy over him,” he shared.
In addition, the Dinwiddie Sheriff’s Office has embraced the age of social media and how it has the power to provide direct communication with the audience through their official Facebook page, which Adams says he and his staff are active on.
“The Facebook page allows citizens to bring things to my attention and it is just another way for us to get out into the community and knowing the people,” he said. “If you gain their trust, they can really help you and that has been my goal and what I have done through the years and I am fortunate because a lot of citizens know me on a first-name basis and they have my number so if they have a problem, be it with someone in the county or one of my officers, they can reach out to me.”
Through the medium of conversation accompanied by a meal and cold drink, Tuesday’s National Night Out event served to link the department with the citizens they serve and connect the citizens with the men and women who protect them, which is the overarching mission of the event for Adams and nationally.
“My goal is for no citizen or child in this county to fear the police,” Adams said. “I want them to know that the police are on their side to help them. I think community-oriented policing is more important now than ever before.”
To learn more about the department’s community policing programs, visit http://dinwiddieva.us.