At a time when building relationships between police officers and communities is more important than ever, the National Night Out event in Akeley Tuesday, Aug. 4 is continuing its mission of bringing community members and law enforcement together.
It is the second year both Nevis and Akeley police and the Nevis and Eastern Hubbard County Fire departments will participate.
“National Night Out is a huge tool for prevention,” Akeley Police Chief Jimmy Hansen said.
Hubbard County Deputy Josh Oswald said he hopes the event will bring people from Nevis and Akeley together for an evening of fun and getting to know new friends and neighbors.
The event will kick off with an “any year” car show from 3 to 7 p.m. Cars will be parked in the Dollar General Store parking lot on Hwy. 34 and there will be a People’s Choice Award.
Children's games will begin at 4 p.m. Free food catered by Zappy’s will be served at Paul’s Patio from 5 to 7 p.m. On the menu are beef hot dogs, chips, ice cream bars and lemonade. Nate’s Fish will provide free music from 5 to 7 p.m.
Hansen has been Akeley’s police chief for 10 years.
“When I came to Akeley there were concerns in the drug-trafficking area,” he said. “Today, Akeley is a family-oriented community. The residents are very supportive of law enforcement arresting criminals and sending them to prison and getting this town to be a safe environment for their children and grandchildren. It’s exciting! We have great people in Akeley.”
Hansen said he wants residents to know him not only as an officer, but as a friend. He said he and Josh work as a team. “It’s so helpful when we work collaboratively,” he said. “That’s how we win.”
He credits the Hubbard County Sheriff’s Office for all they have done toward getting drug dealers out of the county. “Sheriff Cory Aukes and his staff have worked closely with us on the drug issue,” Hansen said. “Anyone who has information to share with us can call the Hubbard County Sheriff’s office or my office in Akeley at 652-4440.”
Oswald has been working in the Nevis community for seven years. He said the best part of his job is interacting with people.
“Up here in small town Minnesota, people are very supportive of law enforcement,” he said. “They realize we’re here for them. I’ve formed special relationships in this community. Every day I check in, whether it’s going to have coffee with local vets or stopping in to visit a local resident who lives alone. They’re very appreciative. I’ve formed a special bond with some of the residents that way. They’ve learned to trust me and fill me in on stuff. I can’t be everywhere, so they tell me things that are going on that I should know about. A lot of people, back when they grew up in the 1960s and 1970s, they always knew their small town cop. What I’m focused on is going back to that, doing community policing and being out in the public.”
When school is in session, Oswald stops by to check in once or twice a day. “I want to get students the education to make good choices,” he said. “I’ll stop in to have lunch with the high schoolers and try to steer them on a good path.”
Oswald said he is looking forward to interacting with people at this year’s National Night Out event. “We’ll be practicing social distancing, but I encourage people to come up and visit and get to know their law enforcement,” he said. “It’s the one night a year when we can all get together and have a positive impact.”
Those attending the National Night Out will have a chance to dunk Oswald, Hansen, and other community members for a fee to help raise funds for the Akeley emergency shelter.