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Chicopee police, community team up against crime

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CHICOPEE, MA (WSHM) -

Chicopee joined thousands of communities across the country to hold a National Night Out, where families and police come together against crime in their cities.

Chicopee residents say the past six months they've noticed an up-tick in crime.

But with National Night Out they can focus their efforts and work together with law enforcement to combat that crime.

"We took a stand, we said we didn't want to see our neighborhood go down the tubes, we didn't want to see people moving out," said organizer of Chicopee National Night Out, Jean Fitzgerald.

She never dreamed 19 years ago Chicopee National Night Out would draw the thousands that it does now.

For years, Chicopee families have gathered in Sara Jane Sherman Park to take a stand against crime and get closer to the people patrolling their streets.

"It's an effort to bring the police and the community together and it's an opportunity for kids to meet police officers," Fitzgerald said.

She's talking about kids like 9-year-old Alicia Beaton.

"I think it's good because they patrol the city and I think it's really good for them to talk to us," Beaton said.

To her and other kids there, a badge sticker and a few moments laughing with a police officer can change the way they view law enforcement for life.

"I see little kids grow into adults now and they even come up and tell me what an impact it had on them growing up," said Lt. John Pronovost, 25-year veteran of the Chicopee Police Department.

Parent Paul Orszulak brought his 7-year-old son Maxwell so he would have a better understanding of police from a young age.

"It's important because we get to meet the officers and the firemen ... so he can be able to feel comfortable around cops and not feel scared. He's only 7, so he should trust them," Orszulak said.

Residents, police and Mayor Mike Bissonnette believe that by coming together like this once a year, they can continue to combat crime.

"At the end of the day we're all neighbors, we're all working together to make this city a great community, and we're well on our way," Bissonnette said.

On Tuesday night, Springfield, Agawam and Palmer are just a few of the communities hosting their own national nights out against crime.

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