If You See Something, Say Something!  National Night Out Celebrates 25 Years

by Andrea Ganley-Dannewitz

Savannah Dannewitz and Shay O’Hanley had to visit the Hampton Police Horses.  They are pictured here with Officer Charlie Karpenko and his equine partner Arrow.

Salem Police Department was proud to host National Night Out on Tuesday, August 5.  The evening is a nationwide event with nearly 10,000 communities across the country participating.  This year celebrates 25 years of uniting communities to create awareness of crime in our area.  The idea is to bring members of communities together with local police and fire departments to take a stand against crime and to send a clear message to criminals — We are taking a stand against you and we will report you.  Crimes are not tolerated here, not by the police or us.

The event raises awareness of crime issues, how our police department is equipped to handle these problems, and how members of the community can stand up and take action without taking the law into their own hands.

One thing people tend to forget is that the police are out there on patrol, but they are only human.  They cannot be everywhere at once.  Members of the community need to report what they see, otherwise how will the police know that there is an issue?  The idea of getting the community united during National Night Out is for members of the community to meet each other, collaborate, organize, and gain support for neighborhood watch groups, and to meet local law enforcement officers and firefighters.  Remember, Salem residents, crime prevention starts with you!

Target Stores sponsors the national event.  Police Chief Paul Donovan said, “Target is a huge supporter of community events and local law enforcement agencies.  They are very proactive in providing information on crimes, not just among their loss prevention but also with law enforcement agencies in regards to thefts and shoplifting rings that move from one community to another, such as what we see in Salem.  It gives us a heads up.”

Besides uniting the community and having neighbor meeting neighbor, National Night Out is filled with family fun.  Salem Fire Department offered a demonstration of the use of their extraction tools.  Children and adults watched in awe as Salem firefighters went to work on a simulated car accident with victim entrapment.  (Just for the record, this amazing crew of firefighters we have in Salem had the top of the car off and access to the victim in less than three minutes!)  Salem police officers held several taser demonstrations and K9 demonstrations, and children could be seen checking out police cruisers and sounding off their lights and sirens.  Many officers were in and out of uniform, mingling with the public, and answering questions of all kinds among the large crowd of people.  Who would have thought taking a stand against crime could be so fun?

Bates Entertainment provided dance music, disc jockey, and a hula-hoop contest for children.  The winners of the contest won brand new bicycles.  Hampton Police Department was present with their patrol/crowd control horses from the mounted unit, and delicious food was never-ending thanks to Mark Bernard of T–Bones Restaurant.  Big thanks to Mark for slaving over that grill and keeping our bellies full!

The United States Army set up an informational booth for all ages and could be seen constantly mixing with the crowd and answering questions.  Salem Co-Op Bank had a prize wheel, which was a big hit with the kiddies, and dental kits used to collect a dental imprint and DNA of a child’s teeth were available at no charge, a great tool just in case a child does go missing.

The National Night Out drew in a very large crowd and was nothing less than a huge success.  Sargeant Eric Lamb was the police department’s coordinator for the event.  He was thrilled that everyone was having fun and gaining something from attending, which was awareness.  “I was really pleased with the turnout of the event; it really brought our community together,” said Sargeant Lamb.

John Walsh of America’s Most Wanted (AMW) offered tips on the AMW Website of what communities can do to improve their neighborhoods and keep them safe in conjunction with National Night Out:

  1. Organize neighborhood clean-up days for your neighborhood.  You’ll get fresh air and exercise.  Plus, the    more people who help, the faster it gets done.
  2. Make sure your streets and homes are well lit.
  3. Start conversations with your neighbors, even about the weather.  From there, it’s an easy step to keeping informed about your neighborhood.
  4. Invite neighbors over for a cup of coffee and share concerns about what’s happening on your street and discuss solutions.
  5. Make and deliver cookies for your neighbors for special occasions.
  6. If your neighbors travel, offer to watch their home.  When you travel, ask them to do the same.
  7. Instead of hiding keys around the outside of your home, give and extra key to a neighbor you trust.
  8. Be vigilant as you go about your daily business.  Learning the normal routines of your neighborhood will help you spot anything out of place.
  9. Develop a home evacuation plan and practice it with your family and neighbors.  Encourage neighbors to do the same.

Photos by Andrea Ganley-Dannewitz

Dylan McMenemy and Olivia Thomas-Roy are pictured here with Ralph Anthony of Bates Entertainment.  These were the two “Hula Stars” who won brand new bicycles in the hula-hoop contest.

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Remembering Mark Sambataro

by Andrea Ganley-Dannewitz

Mark Sambataro

The Salem community has endured a huge loss with the sudden death of former Salem Police Detective Mark Sambataro.  Mark passed away last Wednesday, July 30, after suffering a heart attack at his home.  He was 48 years old.

Judgment Day for a Police Officer
~Author unknown~
The policeman stood and faced his God,
Which must always come to pass.
He hoped his shoes were shining,
Just as brightly as his brass.
“Step forward now, Policeman.
How shall I deal with you?
Have you always turned the other cheek?
To my Church have you been true?”
The policeman squared his shoulders and said,
“No, Lord I guess I ain’t,
Because those of us who carry badges
Can’t always be a Saint.
I’ve had to work most Sundays,
And at times my work was rough,
And sometimes I’ve been violent,
Because the streets are awfully tough.
But I never took a penny,
That wasn’t mine to keep.
I worked a lot of overtime,
When the bills just got too steep.
And I never passed a cry for help,
Though at times I shook with fear.
And sometimes, God forgive me,
I’ve wept unmanly tears.
I know I don’t deserve a place among the people here.
They never wanted me around,
Except to calm their fear.
If you’ve got a place for me here, Lord
It needn’t be so grand.
I never expected or had too much,
But if you don’t, I’ll understand.”
There was silence around the Throne
Where the Saints had often trod.
As the policeman waited quietly,
For the judgment of his God.
“Step forward now, policeman
You’ve borne your burdens well.
Come walk a beat on Heaven’s streets,
You’ve done your time in Hell.”

Mark was a Salem police officer for 21 years.  He was well-known, not just in Salem but throughout the Merrimack Valley, as a great detective who handled many of Salem’s high-profile cases and for keeping millions of dollars worth of drugs and narcotics off of our streets.  After his retirement from the Salem Police Department in 2007, he went on to become a team member and vice president of Focal Point Investigations, LLC with his two close friends and former fellow officers, Wesley Decker and Richard Oliveri.  They are still in their first year of business.

Though Mark had his hands in every major criminal investigation that went down in this town, he was quite humble about it.  Just two weeks ago, this writer interviewed Mark, Wesley, and Richard about their private investigation business and life after the police department.  Mark’s own words to me in regards to a question I asked the trio about remembering any particular cases handled during their careers was, “If you want to have a big head and say, ‘well I did this, and I handled that, or how about that?, I solved this’ … well, that may be for some, but that is not for me.”  What I gathered from this was a strong man who was humble about the great police work he had done, and by no means did he consider himself a hero … but to many he was a hero, especially his family — wife Monica, son Ryan, and daughter Hannah — and all his comrades of the Salem Police Department.  He sure will be missed terribly.

In 2003 and in 2005, he was named Salem Police Department’s ‘Officer of the Year’ for his work in narcotic investigations.  In 2004, Mark made a traffic stop on Route 111 that led to the discovery and seizure of more than $500,000 in drugs and money.  In 2006, Mark discovered over $1 million worth of cocaine after smelling marijuana in a vehicle he had stopped.  In addition to his ‘Officer of the Year’ awards for 2003 and 2005, he also earned the ‘Chief’s Achievement Award’ and the ‘Meritorious Service Award,’ which is not given out very often.

He sure was a one-of-a-kind man, and the entire community shares the grief that has been brought upon all those who knew and loved him.

Area police motorcylists wait for procession

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