CONWAY, S.C. (WBTW) — The Conway Police Department hosted its annual National Night Out event Tuesday at the Smith-Jones Community Center.

Officers from Conway and deputies from the Horry County Sheriff’s Office participated. The family-focused event aimed at growing the relationship between law enforcement and the community featured free food, drinks and music, and activities like cornhole and face-painting.

“It’s perfect, I love it for the kids,” parent Raheem Powell said. “It makes me happy I’m proud because when I come home, the kids be happy and they talk about what they did for everything, so it’s a blessing.”

For Powell, it was the first time he’s been to the event, but he said he will come back again.

Police Officer Tyres Nesmith, who has served in Conway for 17 years, said National Night Out is vital to bridge the gap between the community and law enforcement.

“Neighbors can connect with neighbors within the community, and neighbors can connect with the police,” he said. “Most of the time people come to us at Walmart we’re either on a call or in a rush or doing something. This is the time we aren’t doing anything. Our total focal point would be talking to you, getting you the answers or just information you want.”

She said she has enjoyed this event for the past 17 years.

“I’ve been doing this for 17 years,” Nessmith said. “I’m pretty much here at every event, and I always enjoy it. We always have a good time.”

She said the event helps remind residents that police officers are people, too.

“It’s not formal,” she said. “It’s not a traffic stop. It’s not you bringing your kids to the police department for a talk or anything. It’s a laid-back atmosphere so they can see that we’re people, too, We have families.”