Nightout

Michael Bishop, lieutenant for the Norristown Police Department, addresses the crowd as Symone Gatewood looks on.

— TRIBUNE PHOTO / CHANTALE BELEFANTI

Norristown residents participated in the National Night Out Block Party.

The event was organized by the Norristown Police Department and local organizations to bring the community and police officers together for a night filled with music, food, activities, and dancing.

The 1300 block of Willow Street was closed for the annual event.

“We strive to make a connection with the community to make sure the community feels safe talking to us,” said Michael Bishop, Lieutenant for the Norristown Police Department. “We want them to come to us with any type of problem and we can go to them when we have a problem to discuss it with them and give them help.”

Over the past five years, Norristown’s crime rate has dropped 45% and violent crimes have decreased by 50%.

“Besides events like this, our daily activities as police officers include us going out and connecting with the community,” Bishop said. “We get out of our cars and talk to people. Norristown is a great place and we want more people to enjoy what we have here. We have a great outpouring of community help.”

The Norristown Police Department held a contest for neighborhood children asking them to submit a letter stating how they would do to make Norristown better.

Symone Gatewood, 11, submitted a two-page letter and a portrait of a forest along with her entry.

“When I get older, I’m going to go around and pick up trash and recycle items,” she said.

Gatewood won the contest and received a new bicycle and helmet as a gift.

Timothy Conaway has been a resident of Norristown for two years and attended the event with his family and friends. He hopes the event will set a precedent for the community where people can come out and have fun and enjoy a nice environment.

Community members and attendees were able to engage with Norristown’s Firefighters, local non-profits. Kids enjoyed face paintings, balloons, free sandwiches from Chick-fil-A, and music.

“Our firefighters and police officers are on our side as residents. We want the residents to feel comfortable so they can go to them so if anything happens they can go to them,” said Valerie Scott Cooper, constituent service representative for U.S. Rep. Madeline Dean. “We want to be able to discuss things I’m away that captures the attention of folks who need the help. We try to make people aware of who’s available to help them at every capacity.”

Dean’s office wants the residents to know that federal programs are available and residents can receive assistance through their office.

“Whether you need help with social security, IRS or passports we’re able to provide support at our local office in Norristown,” Cooper said.

Contact Johann Calhoun at newseditor@phillytrib.com or call at (215) 893-5739

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