As we close out our milestone 25th year of National Night Out and begin to prepare for the 26th edition I want to take a few minutes to reflect on this year’s amazing program. On a personal note I was very humbled to be recognized by Governor Andrew Cuomo, Congressman Tom Reed, Senator Cathy Young, Assemblyman Andrew Goodell, County Executive George Borrello and our own Mayor Willie Rosas for 25 years of Community Service for National Night Out. I have known Senator Young(and her representative County Legislature Kevin Muldowney), Assemblyman Goodell, County Executive Borrello and Mayor Rosas for a long time and they are all good friends to myself, the Police Department and our Community as well. Although I was recognized for our program it would not be what it is today without the support of the Night Out Coordinators, the residents of this great Community, Chief Mike Edwards and the Dunkirk Fire Department, DPW, Parks Dept., our current and past City Administration and Common Council members along with all of the support from the business community who always donate no questions asked. I also have the distinct privilege of working in a Police Department with the best men and women any Police Chief could ever ask for, they do not have an easy job and they do so much for the best of our Community each and every day with no questions asked. The highlight of the evening for me was seeing all we have worked for the last 25 years culminate with my son and daughter on stage reading proclamations written for me. Many of my family members and good friends were in attendance and several hundred Community residents celebrated with us. Our Night Out coordinators are an amazing group of ladies and we would not be where we are today without them. Lori Michalak Herman, Donna Howlett and Ruby Green have been by my side for over 15 years and Arlene Langendorfer who started this program with me has been by my side from day one 25 years ago when we looked at each other and said let’s do this and see what happens. And I must say it has been an amazing ride from there. In addition to our long time Coordinators we are excited to have Martha DeJesus and Amy Noble as new members of our Team.
We had a very large turnout again this year with a constant flow of several hundred citizens visiting throughout the evening. Again this year we saw a lot of new faces and families at the event as well as a many familiar faces. There was a mix of citizens of all ages from babies to senior citizens, that is very encouraging and exactly what we want to see. Unfortunately in Law Enforcement most of our interactions are not in a positive setting. National Night Out is one of our programs that gives us the opportunity to have positive interaction with citizens, families and children and build a relationship that teaches the value of trusting in the Police Department. We constantly work with the Community to send the message that we are here to keep it safe and the best way to do that is to have Community support starting with the children all the way to our senior citizens. A strong partnership within the Community is truly our best weapon in keeping it safe, it only takes a few minutes of time to get involved and make a difference. Without the help of the Community we would not have the success that we do in public safety.
With recent tragedies within our Law Enforcement family nationwide it is now more important than ever to have this great relationship with our Community that we enjoy so very much. There has been an outpouring of support for our Officers throughout the years that has been unbelievable and we truly found out just how much support we have from the Community we serve when we lost our beloved K-9 Officer Matthew Hazelton last year, we were both humbled and proud. We constantly receive all kinds of baked goods and we have a wall that is full of thank you cards in the Police Station. We have children waiving at patrol cars and there are so many citizens stopping our Officers to just say thank you and telling us they appreciate what we do that we can’t even keep count. These are just a few examples of the acts of kindness that have been shown to the Police Department. This support from our Community is second to none and we are very proud to have them standing behind us, it truly is a great feeling to know they take the time to let us know they appreciate what we do and in turn we will continue to do our best for them each and every day.
I want to commend every citizen that gets involved in crime prevention and steps up to make this Community a safer place. I want to especially thank our Night Out Coordinators Arlene Langendorfer, Donna Howlett, Ruby Green, Lorie Michalak Herman, Martha DeJesus and Amy Noble for their hard work. We also had several teenagers volunteer to help with set up, clean up and monitoring the bounce houses throughout the evening. Their dedication is amazing and we could not do this program without them. I want to also commend all of our Police Officers who have given their time to this program every year for the last 25 years, the large number of Officers who volunteer to participate each year shows their dedication to the Community. This is their night to have positive interaction and show the fun human side of who we are as well. I also want to thank the Dunkirk Fire Department for their many years of participation, we have an amazing relationship with our Fire Department and they have been a very welcomed addition to our Night Out activities.
The Dunkirk Police Department and Night Out Committee would like to thank all of our business sponsors for their support and dedication over the years, without them we would not enjoy the success we have. Our many thanks to Blasdell Pizza – Mark Dulak, Tops Markets – Scott Obert, WalMart – Brad Balentine, Southpaw Signs – Cody Britton, P&G Foods – Gary & Patty Damico, Paper Factory – Bruce & Ann Mulkin, McDonalds Restaurant – Sam Giambrone, G&E Tents – Bob Bankowski & Bob Karin, Awesome Bouncers – Jason & Sherry Genovese, Bounce Chautauqua – Jim Fisher, Save a Lot – Kevin Connelly, Atlas Comfort Cabins- Roger Gloss, Zen City Band – Frank Beach, Bill Sutton and Don Hinman, Justin Jakubowicz, Family Video – Shelby Saylor, and Tim Hortons – Dave & Gina Kron. A special thanks to WDOE, The Observer, Mayor Willie Rosas, the Common Council and the Parks, Recreation and DPW Departments for all their support. This is truly a Community event and with everyone working together we will continue to make a difference in making our Community a safer place to live, visit and work in.
Chief David Ortolano
Dunkirk Police Department.