By SHIRLEY PULAWSKI
OBSERVER Staff Writer
While National Night Out, "America's Night Out Against Crime," will be held in the City of Dunkirk on Tuesday, the village of Fredonia has canceled its festivities this year.
Police Chief Bradley Meyers was on vacation this past week and could not be reached for comment, but in a radio interview with WDOE-AM, Meyers said "Regrettably, I just can't put it on this year given our budget situation. It runs me about $500 even with all the wonderful sponsors who donate so much, but there's still just a monetary cost with it.
"Last year, as you know we lost a police officer in the budget. This year, the budget was just slash and burn. We're not getting a vehicle we need badly. I just don't see where the funds would come from, so this year, we're going to take a break."
In the interview, Meyers said the message behind the event is just as important as it has always been.
"I think it's still important that people network with the police. It's important to pick up the phone if you see something out of the ordinary - not waiting until the morning to make that call. It's important to have that relationship with the police where you feel comfortable picking up the phone even just saying 'I'm not sure what I'm seeing, but it seems to be something that's not normal' - you want people to be comfortable doing that. You don't want them to say 'Ah, I'm too embarrassed to make the call.' "
High incidence of false alarms from concerned callers aren't a concern to Meyers. "I don't care if nine times out of 10 of the times it really isn't what you thought it was, but that tenth time, it is going to be what you thought it was and we're going to be right there. That's really important. That's how we catch bad guys. We don't catch bad guys without the help of the community - we just don't. We need you," he said.
In an interview with the OBSERVER, village Mayor Stephen Keefe said he's sorry to hear it's been canceled, but understands how tough the budget cuts have been. "You know I think it's a shame, but I guess that's what happens when you have to really start cutting budgets. I know the fee wasn't that much of a fee, but I know everything in that department was cut back to the bone, so every little bit is important," he said, noting the event has a lingering positive effect. "I thought it was a good positive image to the police force and I think anytime we can link younger children to the police force it's a good thing."
Village Trustee Joseph Cerrie said he's spoken to law enforcement officials about the decision. "It's my understanding (Meyers) had to cut this to be able to pay for other things. His budget really took a lot of cuts this year, because there were a lot of items the street department needed that we have put off in the past - this that needed to be replaced and for safety reasons. I hate to say it, but with budget cuts, everyone has to take their turn, and streets has had to deal with it, and this year, we had to make some big cuts to the police department's budget," he explained.
National Night Out, founded in 1984, is sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch and is an effort to develop trust and relationships between local police departments and the community. The National Association of Town Watch is a nonprofit crime prevention organization which works in cooperation with thousands of crime watch groups and law enforcement agencies throughout the country.
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