National Night Out builds community relationships with law enforcement, fire

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Hundreds gathered at the Hermantown Governmental Services building on Tuesday evening as part of National Night Out. 

“I’m here to support my sister. She is one of the Hermantown police officers, and we brought the whole family, and we’re just here to enjoy and have a good time,” said attendee Megan Gottschald. “I’m looking forward to spending some time with people in the Hermantown community and enjoying some good food.”

National Night Out is an important event for law enforcement and first responders to build community relationships. 

“One of the best part is just getting to meet everyone out in the community,” said Firefighter Amanda Cunningham. “These are the neighbors. These are the people who we see when we’re out responding to calls.”

“We’re developing relationships, and that’s what we do. We try to do it every day, try to get the community involved,” said Hermantown Police Department Commander Mark Gunderson. “They are our eyes and ears out there when we need help and we need assistance in solving some of the crimes, that’s what we count on. So it’s nice to be able to form relationships with them and these types of events are super important. It’s nice that we as police officers, we can be humanized a little bit interacting with all these kids and all these families, and they’re all coming out here and they all support us.”

For many communities, there are several different block parties spread out in the area. Hermantown instead hosts theirs in one central location. 

“We have a lot of different activities and sponsors from around the community,” explained Cunningham. “We have the memorial blood center for giving donations this evening. We have the YMCA. We have the police department with their own activities, as well as the PTA.

“Three or four years ago, we just decided as a community and as a police department, we, you know, try to try to bring everyone together in one spot instead of just multiple National Night Out events throughout the neighborhoods,” said Gunderson. “It’s easier for us to be able to be here. It’s great to try to get everyone in one place.”