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National Night Out returns

National Night Out is coming back to Suffolk this August, and a kick-off meeting for communities, churches and businesses hoping to participate will be held next week.

The community meeting will allow groups the chance to sign up to participate in the event, and they will hear firsthand how important it is to have partnerships between the community and law enforcement officials.

“In order for our communities to thrive, our citizens must feel connected to one another. National Night Out provides the perfect opportunity to make connections within the community, especially in the many new and growing neighborhoods we have in our city. When we’re connected to others, we become better people,” said Suffolk National Night Out Chairman Diana Klink.

Community representatives, businesses and churches are invited to join the pre-registration event. When groups sign up, it puts them on the visitation route for local dignitaries and police and fire units.

Those signing up will receive “party bags” that provide them with information about the event, and the first 30 communities signed up will receive a National Night Out banner for their neighborhood.

The meeting will be held from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. June 26 at City Hall, 442 W. Washington St., in the City Council chambers. Along with information and sign-ups, those attending have the chance to win door prizes.

National Night Out provides communities with an opportunity to learn more about crime and drug prevention and strengthen bonds between the community and law enforcement. This is the organization’s 35th year, and communities participate in all 50 states.

“True public safety requires collaboration between law enforcement and the community. The event puts a human face behind the badges, uniforms, helmets and turnout gear and personalizes our public safety professionals, most importantly perhaps with our youth, which is now more critical than ever,” Klink said.

Suffolk has received national recognition for its work with National Night Out on a city level and individual community level. Suffolk has been participating for approximately 20 years with National Night Out.

The event’s parent organization, National Association of Town Watch, judges communities’ events based on a video and packet of information. Suffolk is placed in category three, which is a population of 50,000 to 100,000, and the city has won the first-place prize four times — 2008, 2009, 2014 and 2016. For 12 years, they have ranked in the top five in the nation.

National Night Out Obici has received recognition as well, and in 2017 it was one of just eight in the nation to receive an award for its individual event.

“Suffolk’s National Night Out has been successful due to the wonderful partnerships that exist between our public safety professionals and our citizens, businesses and faith community and the hard work of the many volunteers and coordinators who have become involved over the years,” Klink said. “They all share a mutual desire to make Suffolk a safe place to live, work, play and raise our families.”

This year’s National Night Out celebration will happen on Aug. 7.