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The water slide was a big deal last year, but at this year's National Night Out, the kids lined up eagerly at the dunking booth to soak Beaufort police officers.'
"The best part was dunking the policeman in the water because one policeman works at Beaufort Middle School," said Angela Washington, 11, who attends the school.'
Although they might have ended up a little wet, this is what Beaufort police said they hoped Tuesday night's event on Duke Street would create: a personal connection.'
"They're getting to know the human side of cops who work in the neighborhood," said Lt. Dale McDorman, who helped organize the event and was dunked a few times.'
The police department partnered with the Beaufort Housing Authority to host the National Night Out, which is part of a nationwide event that aims to prevent crime and drug use by having neighbors gather and meet each other. '
Although it drizzled during the evening, more than 50 people showed up to enjoy the water slide, dunking booth, tours of police vehicles, karaoke and, of course, the free hamburgers and hot dogs.'
For many neighbors, especially the kids who have been out on summer break, the event served as a community reunion.'
"I just came back to the community," said Josh Howard, 15, who just returned from a two-month trip to Michigan. "I want to see how my people are doing."'
A few family reunions took place too.'
"I like how everyone gets together like a big family," said Kevin McGowan, 13, who was eating dinner with about a dozen of his cousins and siblings.'
Virginia Middleton, who used to live in the neighborhood, came to visit her cousin for the event. Eating a hot dog and hamburger on her cousin's porch a few feet from the action, she said not too much has changed.'
"This neighborhood is basically looking out for one another," Middleton said.'
Beaufort police Officer Anna Brewster said she hopes events like this will help her and the other officers look out for the neighborhood too.'
"It's easier to work with people when they trust you," she said. "They have to get to know you."'
National Night Out helps children know that police officers are friends, said Angela Childers, who is operations administrator for the housing authority and has helped with the event for about five years.'
"When they see them next time, they'll say 'I remember I dunked you,'" she said.