Summer is in full swing and families, while trying to stay cool, are determined to make it the best one yet. For many, this means days at the pool, backyard BBQs and neighborhood block parties to celebrate the season. It also means National Night Out, a national tradition of bringing the community together in an effort to raise awareness and create safer neighborhoods.
In 2010, more than 15,000 communities and 37 million people participated in America’s Night Out Against Crime. Communities joined together with their local police and fire departments, businesses, neighborhood organizations and civic groups to heighten crime prevention awareness and to send a message to criminals that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.
The first National Night Out event took place in 1984 with a goal to raise awareness for and strengthen participation in local anticrime efforts. The national effort began with only 400 communities. Coordinated by local crime prevention agencies and organizations, entire communities showed their support for safer neighborhoods by holding front porch vigils and turning on a porch light at each and every home.
Today’s NNO activities have expanded to include block parties, cookouts and visits from local police and fire departments, but the NNO mission remains the same – to heighten crime and drug prevention awareness and create safer communities throughout the year.
From coast to coast, and even in Canada and on military bases worldwide, National Night Out has become a fun event where homeowners come together, socialize, get to know each other and fight crime. They invite local police to give safety and crime prevention talk, host 3K runs, and cook up enough hamburgers and hot dogs to feed anywhere from fifty to thousands of homeowners and children. Having a National Night Out event shows that the neighborhood is active, involved and working together to create a safe, engaging community experience not for just one night, but year round.
The National Night Out organization even gives awards to communities that reach certain goals, including participation, organization, law enforcement involvement and media awareness (click here to see the list on the NNO website). Receiving a National Night Out award brings national recognition to the community and demonstrates the homeowner’s dedication to neighborhood safety.
National Night Out has grown from a one-night celebration of unity to a year-long commitment to safer neighborhoods and communities. Through Project 365, we’re identifying ‘problem areas’ in communities. It could be anything from a park overtaken by drug dealers, to a gang problem, to a graffiti problem, to expanding Neighborhood Watch, to a particular block or neighborhood plagued by crime, drugs or violence. The goal is to work toward correcting that problem within an estimated “365″ days. Each year, National Night Out coordinators will report the results of the problem area that they have designated from the previous year – and targeting a new area or problem for the coming year. Step by step, area by area, and community by community National Night Out will make a positive difference in neighborhoods across America.
National Night Out is an annual event in August, or October for Texas, created by the National Association of Town Watch to strengthen the community by encouraging stronger relationships among neighbors, communities and local law enforcement.
To make the planning process as easy as possible, communities can register with National Night Out. Once registered, the community or association will receive a free organizational kit with everything needed plan for National Night Out 2013. Register with NNO here (www.nno.org/nno/reg.html).
National Night Out and National Association of Town Watch