The pulled pork wasn’t quite the same as the type he was used to eating back in North Carolina, but that didn’t stop the new Killeen police chief from digging into a sandwich and taking some time to talk to the cook.
Chief Charles Kimble has been on the job for about a month, but Tuesday wasn’t his first National Night Out. Kimble took part in the national event during his time with the Fayetteville Police Department, where he worked for 20 years.
The annual night out against crime — the 21st for Killeen — is designed to heighten awareness of crime and drug prevention, and generate support for local anti-crime efforts, according to a news release from KPD spokeswoman Ofelia Miramontez.
Local police departments aimed to strengthen neighborhood spirit and send a message to criminals that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.
KPD asked residents to lock their doors, turn on the lights and head outside from 6 to 9 p.m. to spend the evening with neighbors and police officers.
Kimble started his night out at the Gilmore Senior Center, painting rocks with kids in attendance. Then he made his way to Erin Mills’ home on Illinois Avenue, where Tad Dorroh helped prepare sausage wraps and pulled pork.
“Even one of the kids painting rocks said ‘Wow, I’ve never painted rocks with a cop before.’ And another kid goes ‘he’s not just a cop, he’s the police chief,’” Kimble said. “I said ‘So what? Just cause I’m police chief doesn’t mean I can’t paint rocks.’ Some people work in stores, some people work on cars, and some people are police officers. We’re humans just like you.”
This year’s National Night Out comes less than a week after Killeen matched its criminal homicide total for all of 2016.
The body of Stephen Rowe, 39, from California was found by a mail carrier Thursday lying on Reese Creek Road in south Killeen. Rowe became the 16th death ruled a criminal homicide by Killeen police, a number that matches the previous year’s total homicides. Kimble said that it’s important for police officers to be able to answer questions about the incidents to the extent that they can.
“We’ll have people come up and say ‘Hey, I heard that this person was killed? What happened? Is our neighborhood safe?” Kimble said. “I like talking to people face-to-face, or as we say in police terms, knee-to-knee. Most people just see police from afar, they don’t get to have these conversations everyday like reporters do.”
Lt. Antonia McDaniel has been with the Killeen police for over 16 years, and for a while, he operated out of the North Precinct at 402 N. Second St.
In the past, he made it a point to stop at every neighborhood party before the night was over.
National Night Out gives McDaniel and the rest of the officers who participate in the city a chance to “let the shield down a little bit. Normally when people see cops, it’s in an enforcement or preventative measure.
McDaniel does a lot of extra work in the community raising awareness about the dangers of drinking and driving. But though he might show up to an event with a smile on his face and crack a few jokes, he’s still telling people what to do.
”We’re still saying ‘don’t do this, don’t do that,’” he said. “Here, this is a total ‘I am your neighbor’ feel. We’re here for anything.”
Calling it a chance to reach out to the community, the Robertson Avenue Baptist Church in Copperas Cove held its third National Night Out event Tuesday night.
Despite the rain, the church still drew a crowd and kept children entertained.
The event included hot dogs, hamburgers, a bounce house, games and a chance to meet police, fire and rescue personnel. It is the third time the church has held events connected with National Night Out, according to Pastor Norm Melton.
“It is a chance for us to get our name out there and for people to see what we are all about,” Melton said.
The church is located just off of Business Highway 190.
Police, fire and rescue personnel will be meeting people at a number of National Night Out events.
“This is our 20th year of our police department participating in the National Night Out,” said Sgt. Martin Ruiz.
Five block parties were registered with the Copperas Cove Police Department.
“It is always great to see all the citizens getting involved with the department and this also helps the officers to get to know the citizens of our city and our new way of policing,” Ruiz said. “If we all do our part we can help keep this city a safe place to call home.”
Brookview Village Apartments — a retirement center in Copperas Cove — held its fourth annual event with chicken and pizza in the community room.
Property Manager Lisa Leonard said her event has a different twist on the night.
“It gets the residents out of their rooms and gives them a chance to meet their neighbors, policemen, firefighters and emergency personnel,” Leonard said. “It gives them a sense of community, not just a place to live.”
More than 50 residents attended the event in the community room.
Some other NNO Copperas Cove events included: Jase Court, the 2000 block of Miles Street, and an event near the corner of Ashley and Lindsey drives.
With an onslaught of pouring rain Tuesday evening, many Harker Heights residents had to stop their annual National Night Out block parties early.
However, the rain didn’t dampen the spirits of some party hosts, who continued their festivities into the evening, including Jimmy Tittle, sister Barbara Thompson, and mother Barbara Tittle.
“I love the neighborhood,” Jimmy Tittle said. “I’ve lived here for 40 years and I love the community. I just want to make sure that everything in the community is going good.”
About 100 people attended the Tittles’ block party at 302 Mary Jo Drive in Harker Heights, including a visit from the police department and Mayor Spencer Smith. Tittle was a block captain of his neighborhood for 18 years and has been hosting National Night Out for 21 years.
“The police department and me, we cannot stop all the crime that goes on in this city,” Tittle said. “But we can take a bite out of crime if we all work together. If we get the community working together with the police department then we can all do it together.
For his efforts assisting the police department and his community, Tittle was awarded a third proclamation from Mayor Smith.
He was awarded two from former Mayor Mary Gauer in 1999 and 2002.