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Take part in tonight’s events

Tonight, concerned citizens across America will mark the annual National Night Out, a nationwide event sponsored by National Association of Town Watch to promote police/community partnerships and discourage crime.

Suffolk has been participating in the event for 10 years. This year, the city is defending its 2008 and 2009 titles of first place of all localities in its population group nationwide, as determined by a committee judging video and scrapbook submissions from the localities.

The evening’s events have become more and more popular in Suffolk over the past decade. National Night Out promotes year-round community improvement by encouraging neighborhoods to organize and fight back against crime. Communities hold block parties, parades, cookouts, festivals, ice cream socials and other events to get to know their neighbors. Local law enforcement representatives make the rounds during the night, visiting events and meeting community members.

More than 60 Suffolk businesses and neighborhoods are participating. It’s the most ever for Suffolk’s National Night Out, and it is especially important in light of some disturbing events that have happened since last August.

During the past year, Suffolk has seen a number of crimes involving both victims and offenders who are younger and younger. Just this weekend, a high school student was killed. In recent months, preteens have been arrested for burglaries and attempted robberies.

These and other crimes cry out for action to be taken, and that action needs to come from the community. It is easy to sit back and say that the police need to do their jobs, but the police cannot cover every square foot of the city all the time. Citizens need to get involved, get informed and take action to fix what is wrong with their neighborhoods.

Many police officers will tell you the most effective (and, incidentally, the cheapest) crime-fighting tool is not a gun, a taser, a police vehicle or even a computer — it is an involved and informed citizenry.

The bottom line is that it’s important to support tonight’s National Night Out events by getting out and meeting your neighbors. Even if you have someplace else to be, show solidarity by turning on your porch light.

Visit www.suffolknno.org to find the closest event.