National Night Out events brings cops and community together, briefly

New Rochelle City Manager Charles Strome on Tuesday stood beside the greatest closer in baseball history and grilled hot dogs for the community in front of New Rochelle City Hall.

"He [Mariano Rivera] tells us what to do," Strome said. "He's the closer."

Mo joined Strome as part of the first National Night Out since 2019, after a year that saw multiple police killings of unarmed people of color, a spike in gun violence, and some of the most civil unrest in this nation's recent history.

"I think it's a very important night, especially with what's gone on over the last couple of years," Strome said. "We've had a couple of incidents in New Rochelle."

"It should just be easy, calm, relaxed," New Rochelle mother of two Aziyza said of communication between police and community members. "They have to learn that. But in New Rochelle, they do a pretty good job."

Aziyza thought it would benefit all parties if officers on the job softened their tone when interacting with members of the community — a sentiment echoed by those at a Night Out event in the Bronx.

"We have to get rid of some of the animosity, some of the hatred we have," a Bronx man said.

"National Night Out is our statement that we will never let crime overcome us," Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

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De Blasio joined NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea and other elected officials and members of the police department in the Bronx, Tuesday, where they cited improving crime stats and promised to do better still.

"Thirty-five percent reduction in shootings in July and we are nowhere near satisfied," Shea said.

All around the country, National Night Out gave communities an opportunity to get to know their local police officers not just as cops but as fellow citizens.

"It's nice to have the people see we're human beings," New Rochelle Police Capt. Collins Coyne said, "here to do a good thing for the community and remember that's what our intents are."

A fourth-generation member of the New Rochelle Police Department, Coyne thought that most cops joined the force already understanding the importance of the relationship-building part of the job.

"I think it's intuitive," he said. "We come from the public ourselves."