PORTLAND, Ore. - Neighborhoods across the nation will be enjoying a 'National Night Out' on Tuesday, Aug. 7.
The goal? To strengthen community spirit and send a message to criminals that neighborhoods are organized and will fight back.
Block parties, cookouts, safety fairs and much more are all part of the annual get together, which draws millions of people out of their homes to meet their neighbors and learn how to prevent crime where they live. Last year over 15,000 communities participated, according to organizers.
Portland's Crime Prevention Program Manager, Stephanie Reynolds, recently joined us on AM Northwest to talk about National Night Out. She stressed the importance of knowing your neighbors, especially in a day and age where that is not necessarily the norm.
"American culture has changed," she said. "It used to be that people would live in the same house for decades, potentially their entire life. And they would really know their neighbors very well. I think we're a little bit more mobile as a society right now and people don't know their neighbors well, so we're not as familiar with the normal patterns of life on a street. We may not notice when something is going wrong. When neighbors know each other and understand each other's patterns and care about each other, they are better able to look out for each other and call the police if something is wrong."
- Portland National Night Out parties
- For areas outside of Portland, contact your local neighborhood association or police department to find out if your neighborhood is throwing a block party.
The event began back in 1984. Matt A. Peskin, who is the Executive Director of the National Association of Town Watch (NATW), came up with the idea. He wanted local crime prevention agencies and organizations to meet with folks in the community and get people involved. That first year, 400 communities in 23 states took part and the numbers have been growing ever since.
"While the one night is certainly not an answer to crime, drugs and violence, National Night Out does represent the kind of spirit, energy and determination that is helping to make many neighborhoods safer places throughout the year," Peskin said in a press release that outlined the organization's history. "It is a night to celebrate safety and crime prevention successes - and to expand and strengthen programs for the next 364 days."