Fight crime tonight

Published 10:49 pm Monday, August 3, 2009

Alright, Suffolk, tonight’s the night.

National Night Out is tonight, and Suffolk is defending the national title for its population group. National Night Out means good food, fun with neighbors, visits from the police and other personnel that keep our city safe and, most importantly, sending a message to criminals that their actions won’t be tolerated.

This is the 26th year for National Night Out, a unique crime prevention event sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch. Last year, more than 37 million people took part in National Night Out in the United States, its territories, Canada and military bases worldwide.

Email newsletter signup

National Night Out was the brainchild of NATW chairman Matt Peskin in 1984. Feeling that participation in crime-prevention efforts was too low, he proposed a national program that would involve entire communities at one time. The first year, 400 communities in 23 states took part in National Night Out.

The first few years of the event consisted of people turning on their front porch lights and sitting on the porch with family and neighbors. As the event grew in popularity, activities expanded to include block parties, cookouts, parades, festivals, neighborhood walks, safety fairs, contests, rallies, meetings and visits from police.

Many of those activities will take place at locations throughout the city tonight. The kick-off of the event will be held at the new police administration building at 5:30 p.m. At 6 p.m., neighborhood celebrations will begin, and eight tours will depart from the police department to visit the various locations. The tours will converge on Bethlehem Ruritan Club, last year’s winning community, around 8:15 p.m. Events will end around 9 p.m.

The importance of your participation cannot be overstated. Police departments and residents must work hand in glove to make the city as safe as possible. Remember, criminals are cowards — they’re going to back down and move on when they realize that citizens in their targeted neighborhood are organized and prepared to act. The police department — even one as outstanding as the Suffolk PD — cannot be everywhere at once. They rely on residents of the city to be vigilant and cautious, to inform them of problems, and to help them where it’s needed.

That’s what National Night Out is all about, but one night doesn’t do much good in the grand scheme of things. National Night Out is just a tool to foster relationships between citizens and police, and among citizens themselves, that can make a difference in the fight against crime every night of the year.

Tonight, lock your doors, turn your porch light on, and get out there with your neighbors. You’re guaranteed to have fun, meet new people and make a difference in your community.