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Emily Welker, Published August 05 2013

Night to Unite gives residents, law enforcement a chance to mingle

FARGO – It’s a chance to get to know your local law enforcement officers.

Today is the fifth annual Night to Unite, a 30-year tradition once called National Night Out.

The evening, which kicks off about 5:30 in most metro-area communities, features games, food, demonstrations and education. It all happens in a block-party setting that gives people a chance to meet their local law enforcement officials and find out what kind of resources they offer residents.

For many officers, it’s their only chance to introduce themselves to the community they serve.

“It’s really fantastic,” said Leann Wallin, community policing coordinator for the Moorhead Police Department.

Wallin said Moorhead officers will appear at 65 resident block parties, including a block party for about 150 homes in north Moorhead at 2506 River Drive N.

All will require some streets to be blocked off by city officials.

“The planning people asked me, ‘Are there going to be any streets left open?’ ” she said, with a chuckle.

Here’s a breakdown of events tonight where you can meet your local law enforcement officials:

The Cass County Sheriff’s Department is hosting events from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in Casselton and Mapleton, including free hotdogs, ice cream, and games for children and adults.

The Fargo police department is hosting a block party at Boler Park, 1734 34th St. S., featuring free hot dogs, potato chips and soda, free play in a bouncy house, and free massages, courtesy of Health Source Chiropractic of Fargo-Moorhead. It will also feature a K9 officer demonstration, plus tips on crime prevention and awareness.

The Dilworth police department is hosting an event at the Community Center, 709 1st Ave. N.W., which will include a bike giveaway and an appearance from a Clay County Sheriff’s deputy, and from the bomb squad robot from the Red River Valley SWAT team. The Dilworth Fire Department will also be there.

Clay County deputies will appear at events in Hawley and Glyndon tonight.

The West Fargo Police Department is hosting a block party at Elmwood Park. It will include the following attractions and events:

- Free life jackets from Cargill.

- Color presentation and flag ceremony by the VFW Color Guard and West Fargo AMVETS.

- Free root beer floats and cotton candy from the VFW Ladies’ Auxiliary.

- In-pool demonstrations from Valley Water Rescue.

- North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation crime scene response vehicle.

- Crashed car display from Operation Life Saver.

- Digital children’s identification from Farmers Insurance.

- K9 demonstration from Officer Pete Nielsen and Disco.

- Mental health and chemical dependency information from Prairie St. Johns.

- North Dakota children’s health insurance from Dakota Medical Foundation.

- Child and teen safety information from AAA of North Dakota.

- Bounce house from Games Galore.

- Appearance by U.S. Attorney Tim Purdon, District of North Dakota.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Emily Welker at (701) 241-5541