By Julie Shapiro
BATTERY PARK CITY — Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly greeted local residents and hailed falling crime rates downtown at the 1st Precinct’s National Night Out celebration Tuesday night.
Speaking from a podium on the Battery Park City esplanade not far from his home, Kelly urged residents to play an active role in keeping the city safe.
“We need you,” Kelly said. “We need the community. We rely on you.”
Bloomberg thanked the officers of the 1st Precinct for reducing crime in lower Manhattan by 56 percent over the last nine years. The safety of the neighborhood has helped downtown businesses recover from 9/11, Bloomberg said.
Anthony Notaro, president of the 1st Precinct Community Council, presented Bloomberg and Kelly with certificates granting them honorary membership to the council.
The ceremonial speeches were the one serious moment of the three-hour lighthearted event, which is part of a national effort to bring communities and police departments together to fight crime.
Children raced around the esplanade, painted pictures, hopped onto the moonwalk and shyly shook hands with McGruff the Crime Dog, the NYPD’s mascot. Local elected officials mingled with residents as they waited in line for hot dogs and cotton candy.
As the sun set and the grill slowed down, the speakers blasted Frank Sinatra and a few police officers coaxed kids to dance.