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Syracuse PD attempts to enhance community-police relations with 'National Night Out'

Syracuse police station downtown on Feb. 16, 2022.
Maxwell Mimaroglu
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Syracuse police station downtown on Feb. 16, 2022.

Southside's Kirk Park on Tuesday will have face painting, bounce houses, an ice cream truck and more than 15 police agencies.

But the large police presence is less about law enforcement and more about community engagement.

Public information officer for the Syracuse Police Department, Lt. Matthew Malinowski said the event is needed.

“One of the biggest things we hear is that the community wants to get to know the police better. They ask for an opportunity to meet officers out of their regular duties but just walking around getting to meet neighbors. The problem is we’re at kind of historically low levels of police officers and the call value has not gone down,” Malinowski said.

Despite the shortage of officers, the force holds its National Night Out event annually to address the community’s requests to meet and talk with them casually.

Malinowski said it’s a time for residents to have a completely different experience with the police.

“Most of the time when people interact with police it’s usually either they’ve been the victim of a crime or some sort of other police matter that we need to investigate, typically a high-stress situation where people are upset and during those, you don’t really have the opportunity to really build a meaningful connection. So, this is an opportunity for people to come out with their families, interact with police in a positive way, low-stress, and have those meaningful interactions,” Malinowski said.

Syracuse has seen a lot of violence in recent years and Malinowski said this day is also about showing people what they do to help when bad things happen and arresting those responsible.

“I don’t think some people understand how much work we actually do in the city, especially being down on our numbers. We take approximately 60,000 calls for service, investigate multiple homicides, shootings with injuries, robberies,” Malinowski said, “So, it is important for people to understand that the efforts made by men and women of the Syracuse Police Department is what keeps crime at bay. So, you can only imagine if we weren’t there.”

The Tuesday event will be held in Kirk Park from 4 to 8 p.m. rain or shine.