Raygan Irvin, 5, admitted that she jumped Sunday when she watched Baton Rouge City Constable Cpl. Scott Shavers fire a .38-caliber pistol into a watermelon during Baton Rouge’s National Night Out Against Crime.
Irvin’s mother, Toi Davis, 32, used the demonstration, which was done inside a trailer behind bulletproof glass, to teach her daughter a lesson about guns.
The demonstration was meant to show people what damage a small caliber weapon can do, said Capt. John Lawton, also of the Constable’s Office. The watermelon was obliterated by the bullet.
Davis told her daughter that she needs to tell her father, a Houston police officer, to put his gun away and lock it up when the child is around.
“The gun thing is great because you hear so many things about kids bringing guns to school,” Davis said. “She’s 5 and she knows where her dad’s gun is.”
The demonstration was just one of many available for people at the annual National Night Out Against Crime at Bernie Moore Track Stadium on the LSU campus.
“It’s great for the community. I wish more people were involved in it and came out,” Davis said.
Representatives from the Baton Rouge Police Department, East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office, the Baton Rouge Fire Department and other agencies were on hand to interact with the community.
Attractions like the Fire Safety House, where children learned how to safely exit a smoky building, and the police horse and dog units were the main attractions for the children.
The adults, on the other hand, were more concerned about what their children could learn from the law enforcement officers.
Patricia Armstrong, 64, brought her three grandchildren, Jason, 11, Shelby, 9, and Natalie, 9, to educate them on the dangers of drugs and making the wrong decisions.
The community needs more events like this, Armstrong said.
Baton Rouge Police Chief Dewayne White said Sunday’s event is another opportunity to build trust and the relationship between law enforcement and the community.
“You can’t have a community that’s fragmented from its police department,” White said. “Without the public trust, our efforts are in vain.”
White told the crowd that law enforcement in the area is working toward making Baton Rouge safer and he urged the crowd to help him make the world a better place for their children.
His message was well-received.
“Where we are today, you see so much killings and so much hatred going on, so you need somebody with awareness and concern for the community to let the community know that it’s OK to feel love,” Toi Harris said.
Harris, 35, brought her two sons, Braylon, 6, and Brysen, 3, along with members of her church, Word of Life Faith Ministries, to provide their support to local law enforcement.
“Our beliefs are all about getting rid of the violence and allowing the community to come together with the church to stop the violence,” Harris said.
She said events like Sunday’s are needed in Baton Rouge to show children that they can trust the police.
“We don’t want to scare them with the police,” Harris said. “We want them to know that they have a friend with the police.”
Baton Rouge police spokesman L’Jean McKneely Jr. said the event allowed people to interact with law enforcement in a way that can help build relationships and trust between both sides.
“It gives everybody an opportunity to connect,” said McKneely, who brought his son, L’Jean McKneely III, 11, to the event so he could see what his dad does firsthand.
White said he wishes the department could sponsor more events like National Night Out to educate and reach out to the younger generation.
But the Police Department does not have the money to do it, he said.
“We do what we can do with what we have, but it’s a shame that we don’t (have more money) because that’s where it starts,” White said.
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