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National Night Out celebrated in Billings

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Posted at 9:59 AM, Aug 03, 2022

The parking lot of Atonement Lutheran Church in Billings Heights was packed with police, fire, and other first responders Tuesday night.

But there was no emergency.

It was all part of National Night Out, an annual community-building campaign where families can have a little fun and also get to know some of the people who keep them safe.

“It is just a great deal show the kids around learn about from the dogs to the robots to the bomb squad,” said James Ascheam, who attended the event along with his wife and son.

“Back the blue. Back the red. Firefighters, police, all first responders,” he said.

This was the second year that the church has sponsored the event.

“I think sometimes there is issues between the police and the people and questions and concerns and we felt this was good to just have a fun event where there could be the camaraderie between the two,” said Vivian Beals, the local coordinator for the event.

Billings Mayor Bill Cole and Police Chief Rich St. John were on hand. They both say events like this that promote positive connections—can make a difference.

“It’s absolutely imperative. Without the support of our citizens, we are dead in the water. Anything from helping us solve crimes to passing the safety levy for us last year. Without their support we are not nearly as effective as we could be,” said St. John.

“You know the heart of every community is personal relationships, and this is a chance just to get neighbors together so they know each other. When you have neighbors together you can keep crime down and most of all you can just feel part of a community and feel at home,” added Cole.

National Night Out got its start back in the mid 1980s with people turning on their porch lights and coming outside as a way of showing unity in the fight against crime.