COPPERAS COVE — Brittany Mabry was surprised when she found out the community she lives in puts on an annual event to promote safety and bring families together.

The former New Yorker moved to Copperas Cove with her husband about two years ago and attended the 15th annual National Night Out kickoff party Saturday with her children.

“Good for them. That’s really cool that they put on this event,” she said. “It’s awesome because where I’m from, the police department there was more concerned with arresting people.”

William Hughes, a patrol and school resource officer who also runs the department’s Law Enforcement Explorer Program, said the kickoff party, which had about 300 attendees, is to gear people up for Tuesday’s block parties. The 29th annual National Night Out, scheduled from 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, is designed for the community to come together and bond as a city.

“We want to maintain that small-town feel,” Hughes said. “No matter how big the city gets, we want to remind everybody that we’re still one city, we’re still one family and we want to promote the family atmosphere.”

Sabrina Karl, who spent most of her life in Copperas Cove, attended kickoff events in the past and brought her two children to participate in the festivities.

As she waited in line to get a butterfly balloon animal, Karl’s daughter, Elizabeth, 7, reminisced about jumping in a bounce house and getting a pink airbrushed tattoo earlier in the day. “It’s fun,” she said.

Karl thinks the event is a great way to bring the community together.

“It lets the kids know that the cops are their friends and that they can go up to them,” Karl said.

Hughes hopes neighbors come out and get to know one another during Tuesday’s block parties.

“A fair amount of the city gets involved every year,” he said. “In years past, we’ve had probably the majority of the city come out and promote a safe environment.”

Mabry said she often sees officers patrolling her neighborhood at night, which makes her feel safe.

“My husband and I are getting ready to move, and I told him I want to stay in Cove,” she said. “I really like how family-oriented it is.”

Contact Sarah Rafique at srafique@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7549. Follow her on Twitter at KDHreporter.

I'm the education reporter at the Killeen Daily Herald. Follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SarahRafique

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