Above is a quick 360 degree look at the National Night Out event in Williamsbridge Oval on Tuesday night, which was highlighted by the music of legendary Latin jazz keyboardist Gilberto Colon, Jr. and his band Ensalada de Pulpo. (“Pulpo” is Colon's nickname; it means octopus in Spanish. Octopus Salad is the name of the band. For years, Colon played with Salsa legends Hector Lavoe and Tito Puente.)
National Night Out was held in every precinct in the borough and is an annual event designed to foster a more positive relationship between police and community residents. Organizers deemed the Oval Night Out a big success. “I felt this was the best National Night Outs the precinct [has] ever had,” said 52nd Precinct Community Council President Brenda Caldwell.
In addition to the dozens of informed residents and curious passersby, a small army of borough politicians also attended, including Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson, state senators Gustavo Rivera and Ruth Hasesell-Thompson, Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. Also in attendance was Joe Dowling, the commanding officer of the 52nd Precinct, who was promoted to Inspector earlier on Tuesday.
The event, Caldwell says, combines a singular approach with a broad agenda. You must, Caldwell says, “always keep in mind to work towards strengthening neighborhood spirit and promoting positive support, sharing information and participation for a better working relationship and partnership between police officers and the communities they serve and where we live.”
For the past few years, National Night Out in the 52nd Precinct was held in Poe Park in Kingsbridge, but this year organizers moved it to the heavily-used Oval Park in Norwood, which has had its share of problems recently.
Last summer, a man was murdered in the park, apparently over an iPhone. This summer, a community piano in the park was accidentally junked by the Parks Department, triumphantly replaced by local residents and then destroyed a few weeks later. Friends of Williamsbridge Oval Park, a volunteer group, is now organizing community clean-up efforts at the park.