GRAFTON, Mass. - It's not every day that a SWAT team Bearcat Armored Vehicle, the Worcester County Sheriff Department's mobile command unit and law enforcement from all around Worcester County come together on the Grafton Police Department's lawn.
National Night Out, however, comes just once a year — and Grafton was one of the few local police departments to participate this year.
"We took a year off, but the turnout is fantastic," Grafton Police Chief Normand Crepeau Jr. said as crowds spread from the Grafton Police Department down to the Grafton High School parking lot. "It's just a great night to bring the community together."
The night featured the debut of the Central Mass. Law Enforcement Council SWAT Team's Bearcat Armored Vehicle, purchased through a Homeland Security grant. Upton Police Officer Michael Lupachini, a member of the SWAT team, said he hopes the vehicle will not be used often.
"If there's an armed, barricaded person, we can drive right into the hot zone and take care of them," Lupachini said.
Hundreds of residents turned out for the evening, which featured free food, gunlocks and children's bicycle helmets alongside freebies and informational pamphlets from various Grafton-area public safety groups.
Grafton Detective William Kuck kept an amiable presence behind an exhibit that showcased the town's darker side: samples of drugs — including marijuana bales and heroin — and weapons confiscated by police over the years.
"This isn't just an inner-city problem," Kuck said. "It's right here in Grafton, and a lot of what we're seeing now are prescription drugs."