CARTERVILLE — Everyone at the annual celebration of National Night Out in James Street Park in Carterville had a great time, including K-9 Officers Sniper and Nate, Belgian Malinois dogs with Illinois State Police and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
National Night Out is an annual, nationwide event to promote police-community partnerships. It is celebrated on the first Tuesday of August.
“It’s about having people come out and have fun while getting a chance to interact with police officers, a community spirit event,” Carterville Police Chief Mike Flaningam said. “It’s a good way to mix with the public and talk to people.”
Alderman Phyllis Emery said the police officers and City Clerk Khrissy Hollister deserve all the credit for the event.
“When this event first started, it wasn’t that big. It has really grown into a great event,” Emery said.
National Night Out gets a lot of support from area businesses and churches according to Hollister and Community Resource Officer Ryan Hudson.
“We have lots of local sponsors, but the help of all the local vendors cannot go unnoticed,” Hudson said. “State’s Attorney Brandon Zanotti and Banterra Bank sponsored t-shirts.”
Banterra Bank also had a booth with a game similar to the Plinko on the “Price is Right.” Carterville Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts had booths with information about joining. Inflatable Fun provided a bounce house. Williamson County SWAT team brought their armored vehicle. Carterville Fire Department put a firetruck on display and gave away water bottles.
Carterville churches served hot dogs, chips, popcorn, snow cones and cotton candy. There was face painting and a picture booth. Music in Motion provided music.
Sniper and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service K-9 Officer Nate put their skills on display. Sniper's human partner is Illinois State Trooper Jeremy Wynn. Nate’s human partner is Conservation Officer Adam Rawlinson.
Sniper is 6 years old and will retire in two years at age 8. After retirement, he will continue to live with Wynn and his family.
“I still have 14 years before I can retire,” Wynn told the crowd.
He said Sniper loves to bark and run around, but work is his favorite thing to do.
“He loves to be at work,” Wynn said.
Nate and Sniper do the same kinds of jobs, finding people who are lost or missing, finding drugs and weapons, and protecting their partners and the public from “bad guys.” Rawlinson said their jobs are a little different because as conservation officers, they are often trying to catch poachers and find hidden bows or hunting guns.
He explained that Nate goes everywhere he goes, in the truck, through the woods and in a boat. That it also true when Nate is not working.
“We treat our canine like us – he is a credentialed officer. Do you see his badge?” Rawlinson asked children gathered for the demonstration. “He cannot be petted when he is in uniform.”
Nate will retire in a year. He will stay with the Rawlinson family.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service currently has 11 dogs throughout the nation. They plan to get between 20 and 35 in the next five or six years.
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