On the first Tuesday in August, thousands of communities across the US celebrate National Night Out to bring residents and law enforcement together in a positive way. It’s a community-building campaign promoting police-community relationships and safety, with the goal of making every neighborhood a better place to live.
National Night Out started in 1984 with 2.5 million participants from 400 communities in 23 states. This first event involved neighbors simply turning on their porch lights and sitting in front of their homes, a kind of community vigil. Now, National Night Out boasts over 38 million participants in 16,000 communities, in every state, and has a lot more to offer than porch-sitting.
How did it start? Philadelphia Community Watch volunteer Matt Peskin realized, through his work on a community newsletter, that most local patrol groups did not have a shared platform to connect. In 1981, Peskin established the National Association of Town Watch to provide these groups with more information and resources.
With this network in place, National Night Out was a simple next step — it pulled together law enforcement, neighborhood watch groups, state and regional crime prevention associations, and volunteers from all over the US.
Now for the 36th year in a row, thousands of neighborhoods will host block parties, festivals, parades, cookouts and more to enhance the relationship between communities and law enforcement. National Night Out 2019 will include safety demonstrations, seminars, youth events, live music, visits from emergency personnel, and more.
With the current tension in many communities between citizens and the police force, this kind of event is more important than ever. It brings police and neighbors together in a positive way, with the goal of safety and close community bonds. Kids and adults alike can explore police vehicles and learn crime prevention tips.
National Night Out also provides an opportunity for neighbors to interact with each other, which is less common in this modern age. It helps communities open dialogue, so they can better understand their neighborhood’s needs and reach out to law enforcement groups for help.
This annual event can have a big impact on communities of any size. Visit the National Association of Town Watch website to find a National Night Out near you — if you can’t find one, register your community and help make it happen.