Trophy represents real rewards

Published 8:27 pm Wednesday, December 3, 2014

A trophy in a display case at city hall will be only the most tangible reward from this year’s National Night Out event.

The city took home its third first-place award for the crime-fighting event this year. Held in August every year and sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch, the event encourages folks to get outside, get to know their neighbors and present a united front against crime.

It’s the third time the city has been named first in the nation in its population category, encompassing all participating localities with populations between 50,000 and 99,999. It’s the ninth straight year the city has placed in the top five.

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In Suffolk, the event manifests itself in ways that are as myriad as the individual communities participating. Some big developments join forces and have a huge party with thousands of people in attendance; in other neighborhoods, it’s just a dozen or so neighbors gathered around a picnic table. There are usually contests, children’s activities and, of course, food.

Whatever the party looks like, though, there is a common goal: to get neighbors to know each other, know the law enforcement officers who are keeping them safe and know they need to get involved to make a difference.

Back to the trophy, it will be a visual token of invisible change throughout the city. Neighbors who may otherwise never have met will join forces to make their community stronger, as happened recently in the West End/Lakeside neighborhood when it resurrected an old neighborhood watch program thanks to efforts that started at a National Night Out event. Folks may feel more comfortable calling the police to report something suspicious, knowing they may already have met the officer who will respond to the scene. Criminals might realize that Suffolk neighborhoods are united and fighting back, and they will think twice before bringing trouble here. And for all those things, there’s no possible outcome but to be safer and better off than we were before.

That’s the real reward that came of the 2014 National Night Out.