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Police chief: Virus prompted National Night Out cancellation in Middlesex

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MIDDLESEX — It wasn’t easy for Police Chief Mike Collins to announce last month that the town wouldn’t be participating in National Night Out this year.

Collins had wanted to hold a NNO event since becoming the town’s top cop three years ago. He got his wish last year and put on a well-attended happening. But the coronavirus pandemic has made a repeat of the popular block party difficult. 

“After much consideration, I felt it was in the best interest of our town,” Collins said. “Due to the uncertainty our state is dealing with COVID-19, we were having a tough time getting commitments from vendors, sponsors and knew our numbers would be down.”

Collins said National Night Out requires a lot of planning and everything needed to be lined up by end of June.

“It really is heartbreaking because we were looking forward to another great event, but at same time, things are a little different right now and we are dealing with so much right now trying to keep our officers, their families and the public as safe as possible from this terrible virus,” Collins said. “Hopefully next year, this will all be behind us and we can do an even bigger event.”

Last year, Middlesex held its National Night Out on a Monday to avoid conflicts with Bailey’s block party, which took place on a Tuesday in concert with nationwide observances. 

The community and police camaraderie-building event is held annually throughout the United States in an effort to make neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live and work, according to the National Night Out website.

For the 2019 festival, Collins didn’t request any money from town commissioners. He instead solicited help from businesses and community leaders to cover the costs.