Communities across the country celebrated National Night Out this past week. The event, which was held at police stations, fire stations, or community centers, is one way people are using to reduce crime and drug abuse in their neighborhoods.
National Night Out has been celebrated for 28 years now, and it is typically held during the first week of August. The event has grown over the years, and is now held in all 50 states, and in over 15,000 communities across the country. It is a collaboration of law enforcement agencies, community groups, businesses, civic groups, and citizens all doing their part to improve their communities. Over 37 million people participated in the event in 2010.
Reducing Crime and Drug Abuse
One of the main goals of National Night Out is to increase awareness for crime and drug prevention. This is done by creating awareness of and offering support for anti-drug and anti-crime organizations. It is also done by strengthening the relationship between citizens and law enforcement.
Participating neighborhoods are responsible for organizing their own events that benefit their community the most. Many areas hold picnics or block parties, with visits from local police, fire, and sheriff departments. Other areas feature choirs or bands, exhibits from local businesses and organizations, and contests. Special attractions for kids are popular, such as bike safety clinics, tours of police stations, face painting, and games. Still other localities organize flashlight walks or parades to celebrate the community.
All participating communities focus a great deal on interactions between citizens and the police force. As one worker stated, an important part of the event is; ”working with officers and getting to know them as friends, just as normal people next door. Now the kids get to see that and know that they’re their friends and they can go to them with any problem and not be afraid of them.” (1)
Overall, neighborhoods that have a National Night Out celebration show a togetherness that can be very powerful in the fight against crime and drugs. This event, more than many other methods, sends a message to criminals that their community won’t stand by and let crime take over.
Taking Back our Neighborhoods
Communities that can work together in this way can also stand together when faced with a problem like crime or drug activity. Too many neighborhoods are being taken over by drug dealers who are moving in, or the criminal activity associated with drugs. National Night Out is a simple, yet effective way for the community to band together against problems like this. Anyone looking to organize a National Night Out in their area for next year can go the for more information.