PIQUA — Tuesday evening was a night for neighbors. PROTECT Piqua presented National Night Out in a series of block parties, bringing representatives from the Piqua police and fire departments out into the neighborhoods. They were building community relations as well as promoting the different programs available to help make Piqua safer.
The highlight of the evening the Piqua Police Department’s tactical rescue vehicle (TRV), which they drove around town to help get residents acquainted with the large vehicle. The police department aquired this vehicle in April 2014.
Previously, the police department had an armored money carrier to use for their tactical response team.
“It was breaking down a lot,” Deputy Chief Tom Steiner of the Piqua Police Department said. “It really wasn’t good at stopping bullets.”
The police department knew that they needed to replace it. Rather than paying $200,000 for an armored vehicle designed for police use, the military was able to help Piqua. The police department was put on a waiting list while the military began releasing old military equipment to be reutilized for police work.
“It was given to us,” Steiner said. The only cost was the cost of shipping it to Piqua from Texas.
Having the TRV is a precaution. Steiner explained that its uses are for protecting residents and officers alike.
“We want to keep us safe,” Steiner said. “We want to keep the other persons safe.”
During an evacuation, such as if there is an active shooter or a stand-off, the police department can use the TRV to get as close to residents as needed to evacuate them. The TRV would act as a shield, preventing residents and officers from getting in the line of fire. It also helps the officers get close to the possible suspect if needed.
“It’s not supposed to be big and scary,” Steiner said. “It’s for the safety of the people.”
So far, since the police department has acquired the TRV, they have mostly used it in instances where it was staged close by in case something happened. Other neighboring agencies, though, are able to use the TRV if needed as well. The Miami County Sheriff’s Department utilized in last fall after a report of a stabbing outside of a camp area, according to Steiner. The county agency used it as protection in a large, open field.
Residents were quickly in awe of the large vehicle as it was out and about on Tuesday evening.
“I hope we never have to use it, but it’s something, it really is,” Yvonne Springer of Piqua said. Springer was out at the block party on Gordon Street Tuesday evening, watching as some of her grandchildren got to climb up into the vehicle.
“The police department does a wonderful job,” Spring said. “I’m glad to be a part of this community.”
Cindy Pearson, a candidate for the Piqua City Commission, and her husband helped organize the the block party on Gordon Street along with their neighbors.
“We’re getting a nice response,” Cindy Pearson said. Pearson explained that she learned about National Night Out at the Southview Neighborhood Association meeting, where President Jim Vetter of the organization explained that it was about meeting one’s neighbors. That inspired Cindy Pearson to get involved.
Her husband Ron Pearson, a retired teacher and coach, was out supporting his wife Cindy Pearson by working the grill.
“Piqua’s pretty good place,” Ron Pearson said about what him and his wife thought of Piqua. “We should do everything we can to keep it a good place.”
There were five registered neighborhood block parties across the city during National Night Out, including the city’s flagship party on the 700 block of South Downing Street. Activities differed at each of the neighborhoods. The Piqua police and fire departments visited each of the neighborhoods with their TRV and with a fire engine. The Piqua Fire Department was promoting use of the Piqua Carbon Monoxide Detector free distribution program.
Visits also promoting information about the following programs:
- Nextdoor – the online social network that PROTECT Piqua wants to expand into residences that may not use computers or join online networks due to security concerns. The police deparment provided instructions on how to sign-up for this service at Nextdoor.com along with descriptions of how it works and ideas for sharing the information beyond the digital platform.
- Submit-A-Tip – the system that allows residents to report suspicious activities to the police department for further investigation while remaining anonymous. The police department can even have two-way conversations with them without a need for the police department to know who they are.
- Netsmartz – A protection programmed designed to keep kids of all ages safer online
- Do The Right Thing – The introduction of a program that the police department is bringing back to recognize and reward youth exemplary behavior, accomplishments, and good deeds.
Reach Sam Wildow at (937) 451-3336 or on Twitter @TheDailyCall