National Night Out – August 2
On the first Tuesday of August, National Night Out will be celebrated by all 50 states, U.S. territories, and military bases worldwide for the 38th year in a row. These celebrations are as diverse as the neighborhoods who host them, consisting of simple cookouts in some communities and full-blown festivities in others with a common goal to promote positive relationships between neighbors and law enforcement while bringing back a true sense of community.
At this annual event it’s not uncommon to see police cars, emergency response vehicles, safety demonstrations, youth activities, and more as residents come together to meet one another and their local patrol officers in a family-friendly environment. According to National Night Out (NNO) organizers, this national community-building campaign promotes police-community partnerships and “provides a great opportunity to bring police and neighbors together under positive circumstances.”
The events are typically organized by nonprofit organizations, police departments, local companies, neighborhood block watches, and thoughtful neighbors who maintain the goals from many years ago to:
◆ “Provide an opportunity for neighbors to meet one another.
◆ Increase interaction and communication among citizens, police, and city leaders.
◆ Build relationships of trust and respect among residents, police, and city leaders.
◆ Encourage citizens to become involved in fighting crime.
◆ Allow people to recognize and celebrate the successes they have achieved through cooperative efforts.
◆ Give residents and police a chance to recommit to working together”
The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) reports that neighborhoods with high “collective efficacy”, mutual trust among neighbors combined with the willingness to intervene on behalf of the common good, had crime rates 40% below those in lower scoring neighborhoods. NIJ describes “collective efficacy” as “what residents are willing to do to improve their neighborhoods” and notes that “although social cohesion is the foundation of collective efficacy, at the core of collective efficacy are the willingness to intervene and the capacity for informal social control.”
The bottom line is that there is a reduction in crime when people are willing to get involved in their neighborhoods, whether it be the local school, neighborhood clubs and organizations, and are willing to meet neighbors and form a community network. Offering to shovel snow from an elderly neighbor’s property, saying hello to a new neighbor, and practicing the art of being a good neighbor pays dividends.
Everyone wants their neighborhoods to be safe, caring places to live and work and we all have to do our part. National Night Out is an opportunity to take back our neighborhoods and start looking at how we live and serve in our communities with fresh eyes. Several of us at TWG will be out flipping burgers, welcoming new neighbors, and meeting the officers on our local beat this week and we encourage our readers to take the time to send a message of neighborhood camaraderie and locate where the nearest NNO event is taking place near you. True success comes when we partner together to achieve the greater good.
Cindy Johnson, Research Specialist & Strategy Consultant