The Be Safe, Be Smart Task force saw great community response this year. The letter the task force sent to alcohol retailers was well received. A handful of retailers put up signs to reduce the sale of glass bottles during the weekend. Two retailers did not sell glass bottles. Around 1,000 buttons with the Be Safe Be Smart logo were passed out to retailers to wear and promote the campaign.
“When individuals from the community came together in 2013 to talk about the troubling behaviors that were following Cruise Nite, we knew a couple of things: it takes time to change a culture, but also, Kearney has a unique way of working together productively.
We knew, also, it would take individuals from law enforcement, the Cruise Nite organization, neighbors and landlords, and community leaders with skills in communication to all work together. A big part of our conversation and collaborative plan was the news media,” said Kelly Bartling, member of Be Safe, Be Smart Task Force.
Law enforcement was a key part to enforcing safety during the weekend. 80 officers worked the event.
“In 2014, 2015 and 2016 we have seen decreased instances of arrests, citations and infractions, including fewer trips to the emergency room, and just a progressively improving attitude about after-Cruise Nite. People seem empowered to do something, to call law enforcement, or share via “word of mouth” that Kearney wants a safe, fun Cruise Nite week. By working together, we’re seeing a difference. I know I feel positively about the event and see others are feeling more in control, thanks to everyone working together. This project is one great example
of what Buffalo County Community Partners does best: collaborate and communicate,” Bartling said.
“I think people are understanding that they’re asked to behave. We want them to have fun, and I think they are,” said Brad Kernick, event coordinator.
The City of Kearney recognized two retailers, Walgreens and Quick Stop at their city council meeting for their participation in the Be Safe, Be Smart efforts.
“I have never seen support for law enforcement–locally or nationally be as dramatic as it is now. The community always has supported officers, especially when the profession is under attack.” —Lt. Dennis Lewis, Kearney Police