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Rochester's 'Safe City Nights' proving to be a success

"You really learn how much support we have in the community and how people really just want to get to know the Rochester Police Department before they need us."

Posted: Jul 16, 2019 7:48 AM
Updated: Jul 16, 2019 8:21 AM

ROCHESTER, Minn. - The City of Rochester and the Rochester Police Department will host its fourth 'Safe City Nights' on Tuesday.

The new initiative for the community and first responders to get to know each other is proving to be a success.

According to RPD, it's been able to reach 1,800 in the community so far. The department also said that based on surveys following the events, 94% of attendees feel more connected to their first responders.

It's a welcome response to Community Services Captain Jeff Stilwell.

"You really learn how much support we have in the community and how people really just want to get to know the Rochester Police Department before they need us," he said.

For Capt. Stilwell, there is value in connecting with people over some food and conversation. He recalls one Safe City Night, where a recovering drug addict felt comfortable to confide in him.

"It is sort of amazing that people who wouldn't normally talk about addiction, or she had some criminal charges pending, those types of things with a police officer, feel at ease to do it," he said. "And despite wearing the uniform, it's surprising what people just want to talk to you about and that's great."

The fourth Safe City Nights is at Ben Franklin Elementary on Tuesday, July 16, from 6-8pm.

The final two will be on July 30 at Watson Field and August 20 at Bishop Elementary.

Since the first year of this initiative is proving to be such a success, Capt. Stilwell said we can expect it to come back next summer, maybe even bigger and better.

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