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Music, laughter, and cheers filled the courtyard at Marshall Middle Academy of Fine Arts on Tuesday as students, employees, and community members participated in the HISD Police Department’s National Night Out celebration.
National Night Out is an annual event that aims to make neighborhoods safer by strengthening relationships between community members and police departments. HISD Police honored the day with a free public celebration, which featured local vendors and organizations, music, food, and appearances from emergency personnel.
“NNO is just a festive day. We host these events because we want our communities to feel relaxed in their neighborhoods,” HISD Chief Police Paul Cordova said. “We want them to collaborate on how to solve problems, meet each other, meet us, and feel comfortable.”
HISD Assistant Chief Police Lucretia Rogers said she was excited to see law enforcement interacting with the community. She said she thought it was great that the community is not afraid to come out to show support for the police department.
“It was amazing to see all ages of students come out,” Rogers said. “Just to see the smaller kids out and performing, the dancers, the band, the community engaging — it was great.”
Last year’s event was held at the department’s headquarters. This year, the department selected Marshall, which is nestled in the city’s Near Northside neighborhood.
Cordova and Rogers noted that HISD Police was among hundreds of police agencies across Texas hosting events designed to give surrounding communities the opportunity to meet with local law enforcement officials. Additional National Night Out events were held across the city and the district, including the campuses of Peck Elementary School and Madison High School.
“I live in this community and I think it’s very important for us to come to these events,” said Maria Flores, the mother of Marshall student Josue Flores, who was killed while walking home from school in 2016. “There’s still a bit of fear here. But I came out today because I think it helps to know our neighbors and know those who are out patrolling our area.”
Ketelsen Elementary School student Alejandro Flores said he had a lot of fun at the event.
“I like that the police are here,” Alejandro said. “I feel safe. I see them when they’re in my school, too, and when they drive around here.”
Also in attendance were Houston City Council Member Karla Cisneros, HISD Board of Education Trustee Elizabeth Santos, and HISD Board of Education President Rhonda Skillern-Jones, who presented the department with a resolution from the Office of Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis.
“I think what we did today definitely supported our students and let them know they’re in a safe environment,” HISD Police Community Outreach Officer Vanessa Losey said. “Community involvement helps — you have the support from HISD Police. Let’s take pride in our communities. We are here. We are ready and able to serve you. We look forward to making this event bigger and better for next year.”