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Twinsburg -- About 700 people turned out for a community party thrown by the Twinsburg Police Department Aug. 2 as part of National Night Out.
This is the first year Twinsburg has participated and the 33rd year for the program that takes place on the first Tuesday in August in more than 16,000 communities across the United States, U.S. territories, Canadian cities and military bases worldwide, according to the NNO website.
Twinsburg Mayor Ted Yates said he expects the event to become bigger and better every year.
"We do a lot to try to bring the community together with police officers," Yates said. "In line with what's going on in the country right now, this is really a positive step forward for the residents and our safety forces to interact like this."
Sreejith Nelloolichalil, Kavya Othayoth and Ritu Chakkarwar enjoyed watching their children play on the inflatables near the entrance of Tiger Stadium.
"It's a good event for the kids to come and enjoy and the weather is pleasant," Chakkarwar said.
Behind R.B. Chamberlin Middle School, Kierra and Aiden Gerstenfeld and their dad, Matthew Gerstenfeld, watched and listened intently as Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations Special Agent Dan Winterich demonstrated tools used for evidence collection.
There were U.S. Army, Twinsburg and Reminderville safety vehicles to explore, as well as gear to check out from the Summit County Bomb Squad, the SWAT truck, manned by members of Metro SWAT, fire trucks and Ohio Edison, which brought a bucket truck and safety gear.
Visitors were treated to Twinsburg K-9 demonstrations that included Twinsburg Officer Yamil Encarnacion his partner, Yasso, a German shepherd who demonstrated his drug-sniffing abilities.
Next, Solon Officer Matthew Troyer demonstrated how his partner, K-9 Stryker, could take down a fleeing suspect. After Stryker successfully subdued an officer in a bite suit, Yates donned the suit for a repeat demonstration but did not fare any better.
After the demonstration, members of the Twinsburg police and fire departments, with Yates filling in a spot for TPD, competed in an agility course in the Safety Forces Challenge.
Patrolman Jeremy Mahorick, who participated in the challenge, joined the Twinsburg department Aug. 2, 2015, from Hubbard Police in Trumbell County, near Youngstown, where he participated in a local Night Out.
"It was probably one of the biggest, if not the biggest, community event there," Mahorick said. "We had food, activities and people got to interact with police on a whole different level than the way they normally experience."
He said he made it his goal to bring the event to Twinsburg.
"I didn't think it would happen in my first year," Mahorick said.
Earlier this year, Mahorick was included in a meeting with other representatives from the safety forces.
"I asked, 'why don't we do it at National Night Out?'" Mahorick said.
He explained the concept to the group, got administration officials on board, and more people jumped in to help.
Red's Catering grilled and served 650 hotdogs during the 4-hour event, M & G Pools and the Rotary Club of Twinsburg presented as sponsors.
Other sponsors included the Twinsburg Chamber of Commerce, Sam's Club, Heinen's, Healing Space, Mary J. Malek, PhD and Habitat for Humanity of Summit County.
About 400 people sat in the home team bleachers to watch the fire and police departments battle it out for bragging rights and a trophy.
In the end, and by less than 100 feet, Mahorick and his team of seven police officers plus Yates were declared the winner.
"Events like this help people understand that we're ordinary people, just like them," Mahorick said. "We have kids, we have families. A lot of officers bring their families to events like this. When you're not getting a ticket or interacting with police because of a call for service to their business or home, you can talk casually with someone, enjoy some food together, do some face painting, have a snow cone together, and enjoy the night together."