The Bluffton Police Department hosted its third annual National Night Out Aug. 2 at their headquarters on Buckwalter Parkway. The community gathering was part of the National Night Out campaign that promotes camaraderie and police-community partnerships to help make neighborhoods safer, closer and better places to live.

The free event was open to the public and featured demonstrations by the police and fire departments. Interactive stations allowed children and families to sit in the cockpit of a helicopter, climb into an armored SWAT vehicle, and tour the inside of fire trucks. Visitors enjoyed free food and drinks as well as activities and games.

The Bluffton Police Department was the proud victor over the Bluffton Township Fire District during the Tug-of-War competition, which took place that evening.

More than 1,500 people attended the event, while more than 30 organizations and businesses helped make the event possible. This is a significant increase from the first year, which drew 500 attendees, and the second, which had 800.

“Here at the Bluffton Police Department, our mission is committed to communication,” said Joy Nelson, Bluffton Police Department community relations manager. “Nights like this are extremely crucial to making a connection between the police and the community. We enjoy giving back to the community because they’re so often supporting us.”

More than 16,000 communities from all 50 states participate in the campaign, which has been steadily growing since its inception in 1984. It was conceived and promoted by the nonprofit National Association of Town Watch. To find out more about the Night Out campaign, visit www.natw.org.