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Great turnout for Night Out kickoff

Dozens of community members came to Suffolk City Hall on Tuesday and registered to help throw a “going-away party for crime” at the kick-off for Suffolk’s 2019 National Night Out.

The National Association of Town Watch’s 36th annual National Night Out program enhances the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement under positive circumstances, with millions taking part across thousands of communities in all 50 states, U.S. territories and military bases worldwide on the first Tuesday in August, according to a press release.

This year’s celebration will take place on Aug. 6, with approximately 40 different Suffolk communities, civic leagues and homeowners’ associations registered as of Wednesday, according to city spokeswoman Diana Klink.

That doesn’t count business sponsors that are working with individual groups, Klink clarified, and a number of these groups will combine their activities during the celebration, as well.

Klink said that it was good turnout in the City Council Chamber during the Tuesday evening meeting, just six short weeks away from National Night Out in August.

“I think this is one of the largest crowds we’ve had for a National Night Out kickoff event,” she said.

Madison Gwaltney, 17, registered her company Madison Events on Wheels for this year’s National Night Out in Suffolk. Madison said she planned to provide free face painting, toys and other activities for children.

“I think it’s a great thing to get people involved,” she said. “It brings people together in a good way.”

Door prizes were given out during the Tuesday evening meeting, and a video featuring last year’s festivities was shown, with people dancing, having a good time and connecting with law enforcement and first responders throughout the city.

“The partnership that Suffolk shares with its police department is second to none,” Suffolk Police Maj. James Buie said.

Buie praised the great relationship the Suffolk Police Department has with Suffolk Fire & Rescue, Suffolk Sheriff’s Office and the Suffolk Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, and also emphasized the importance of law enforcement’s relationship with the Suffolk community.

“The community is more important than you’ll ever, ever know. Police can’t police without the community’s support, and you guys give it to us every day and we’re greatly appreciative of it,” he said.

City Manager Patrick Roberts said that part of National Night Out’s purpose in Suffolk is to take back communities and neighborhoods from criminal elements and send a message that Suffolk is a safe place to be. Neighbors can do this by gathering, protecting and serving each other.

“We seek to do all that throughout the year, but this is an important night where that’s on full display. Let’s gather, celebrate and make this a safe place,” he said.

Suffolk’s 2018 National Night Out activities won first place in the nation for its population category, which marked the 13th consecutive year that Suffolk has finished in the top five nationally. Suffolk is also the highest-ranking locality in Virginia by the National Association of Town Watch.

Suffolk won first place in the nation in 2008, 2009, 2014, 2016 and 2018, according to Klink.

“Let’s continue the momentum and make this year the biggest year ever,” she said.

Visit suffolknno.com or call Klink at 514-4104 for more information.