Dunwoody's 2014 National Night Out took place in the Walmart parking lot on Ashford Dunwoody Road August 5.
Dunwoody’s 2014 National Night Out took place in the Walmart parking lot on Ashford Dunwoody Road August 5. Photo by Ellen Eldridge

A last-minute change of venue didn’t deter Officer Timothy Fecht, who said he had to “adapt and overcome” in moving Dunwoody’s National Night Out event to the Walmart parking lot at 4725 Ashford Dunwoody Road, in Dunwoody.

The National Night Out annual campaign takes place worldwide, involving citizens, law enforcement agencies, civic groups, businesses, neighborhood organizations and local officials from more than 15,000 communities and in all 50 states, U.S. territories, Canadian cities and military bases. Local police planned gatherings in Sandy Springs and Buckhead.

Designed to strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships, Dunwoody’s National Night Out “lets people get a better look at the police department and the equipment we utilize,” Fecht said.

In addition to local businesses including Sprouts Farmers Market, Chick-fil-A and Walmart, which pitched in last-minute to host National Night Out that has been held at the Super Target, nonprofit organizations including the Friends of Dunwoody Library, Angels Among Us Pet Rescue and I Care Atlanta offered community information and a chance for kids to pet rescued dogs.

Lt. Jalil Allah, 16, leads the Dunwoody Explorers in a demonstration at the 2014 Dunwoody National Night Out event hosted by the Walmart on Ashford Dunwoody Road in Dunwoody Aug. 5. Photo by Ellen Eldridge

A short presentation by the Dunwoody Explorers showed neighbors and friends how a group of 14 to 21-year-olds is taking an active role in leadership and in learning discipline.

Jalil Allah, 16, of Marietta, has served with the Dunwoody Explorers for more than two years, he said, adding that he joined when he lived in Dunwoody and stayed with the same group after moving to Marietta.

“The people you meet (in the Explorers program) and the connections you make, you don’t want to leave,” Allah said.

Allah said his peers recently voted him president of the Georgia Explorers, and he serves as Lieutenant of the Dunwoody Explorers. He plans to continue his two-year leadership role even though he will graduate high school before his term ends.

Madeline Vicine, 7, of Dunwoody shakes hands with firefighter Karsten Green of the Dekalb County Fire Department. Photo by Ellen Eldridge

“I plan to go to Kennesaw State University, then transfer into the United States Air Force, and go to pilot school,” Allah said, smiling.

Overwhelmingly, the children wanted to see the SWAT gear and vehicle, but the fire engine was a popular stop as well.

Officer Lee Hasseltine discusses the SWAT team purpose and shows the gear used to the Smith family of Dunwoody. Clockwise from back: Sharon Wright, Nicole Smith, Gage Smith, 6, and Dillon Smith, 8. Photo by Ellen Eldridge

“We’re not going to let the criminals deter us from being out at night,” Fecht said.