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Night Out benefits all

While the world prepares to watch athletes break records in Rio over the next two weeks, Suffolk broke many of its own records here earlier this week.

The 2016 installment of National Night Out likely had some of the highest participation — and lowest National Night Out temperatures — ever recorded in the city, with thousands participating in a celebration at King’s Fork Middle School alone, not to mention the dozens of other parties going on around the city.

It was also the first, but probably not the last, appearance of the Unity Parade, which saw dozens of participants from across the city walk arm-in-arm down North Main Street, ending at the National Night Out kickoff at the Suffolk Visitor Center Pavilion.

But breaking records isn’t the point of National Night Out, and neither, really, are the games, the food or the entertainment — though they are nice perks.

The point of National Night Out is to bring neighbors together with neighbors and residents together with the law enforcement officers who protect and serve their communities. The purpose of this is to strengthen relationships that will present a united front against crime.

The benefits of National Night Out are almost impossible to measure statistically but can be seen in numerous anecdotes: the neighborhood that regenerated its Neighborhood Watch program through the relationships forged on National Night Out; the children who met police officers over hot dogs and fried fish rather than during a call for service; the neighbors who finally met and learned about each others’ families, giving them a better chance to look out for each other in the future.

These things and more have actually happened in Suffolk during National Night Out the past several years, and the program holds nothing but good things for the future. We applaud Suffolk officials and residents for taking this program seriously and putting on a slam-dunk of a party that perennially rivals those across America.