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Enjoying crime’s ‘going away party’

The annual National Night Out is routinely scheduled for the first Tuesday of August. This year, the event aimed at showing a unified front of public safety officials and residents against criminal elements just happened to fall three days after the murder of an 18-year-old high school student in downtown Suffolk.

Many might consider the anti-crime event taking place just days after a horrible murder a coincidence; some might call it divine intervention.

In around 60 communities and neighborhoods throughout Suffolk, thousands of residents came together to throw what some called “going away parties for crime …”

It is this type of event, this unity in voice and action that is needed to truly claim our streets, our communities and our city from those who have other-than-honorable intentions.

In addition to taking aim at crime, the annual celebration serves as a block party of sorts, helping neighbor meet neighbor and building communities.

“We need to exchange phone numbers and information, and get to know one another,” Burbage Grant Neighborhood Watch coordinator Buddy Pye said at the National Night Out event in his neighborhood. “This is something we hope will facilitate that. That way, when someone goes out of town or someone leaves their garage door up, we’ll be able to look out for each other.”

The events also showed how some neighborhoods that once harbored crime have made a change and are fighting back to create safe, secure communities.

“This is past, present and future Saratogans getting together to prove we can do this in a positive way,” Saratoga Street leader Sarah Knight said of the National Night Out event on Saratoga Street that drew hundreds of guests.

Today we congratulate the National Night Out organizers for the months of planning they put into another successful event and the community leaders who planned and organized events, large and small, in their neighborhoods. Your efforts will make and have made a difference.