Sgt. Marc Lavine, seated on a collapsible chair perched above a tank of water, seemed invulnerable as child after child threw baseballs at the target that would have triggered the release and submerged him. That is, until a girl who looked around seven, landed her toss on the sweet spot, dunking Levine.
And he loved it.
The dunk tank was Lavine’s idea, one of many features of Bedford’s version of National Night Out on Tuesday. The event “enhances the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement while bringing back a true sense of community,” according to its national sponsor. It falls annually on Aug. 1.
Sgt. Jared Weisenborn was the department’s point person for National Night Out, which falls under the umbrella of crime prevention. He noted that this was the first local version since 2019, and said he had a basic template and “just tried to come up with the rest. We invited everyone.”
The scene on the pavement and grounds in front of the police station had a Bedford Day vibe. Scores of visitors meandered around displays and conversed with officers. There was a focus on young children; a “trackless train” transported kids on a route circumnavigating Town Hall.
One of the features of the Police Department’s table was a fingerprinting experience for children, executed by Deanne Garcia of the emergency communications staff. There also was a raffle offering a basketful of toys.
Behind her display, Officer Jeffrey Vinciulla showed visitors the workings of the Northeastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council (NEMLEC) communications van.
Detective Lt. Scott Jones said that the Night Out is an opportunity for law enforcement to showcase its “community partnerships.”
And they were on display along Mudge Way and on the grass and parking lot across from the police station. Children clambered around the Fire Department’s Engine 4, and firefighters staffed an information table that offered miniature helmets.
The Department of Public Works provided a loader and a dump truck. Riggio Auto Repair loaned its heavy-duty tow truck, and also on display was Boston MedFlight’s ambulance.
Nearby, Dave Riley of Billerica transmitted tunes for all ages on his portable Beat Boxx, which also featured a contraption that emitted a steady stream of soap bubbles. Revise Energy and Gan Jing World, which describes itself as a safe social media platform, offered literature, and Express Pizza provided free mini-cupcakes.
Cliff Chuang, the new Bedford Superintendent of Schools, was among those who stopped by the Night Out. Police Chief John Fisher escorted his counterpart from Bedford VA Health Care, Richard Brennan, and the hospital’s associate director, Kendra Lee, on a tour of the newly-expanded station.