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Participate in ‘Night In’

As long as this isn’t your first August in Suffolk, you probably know that Suffolkians take National Night Out very seriously.

The crime-fighting and awareness event is a national thing, but you wouldn’t know that if you celebrated it in Suffolk. We here in Suffolk make it seem like we invented it with our enthusiasm and hard work to make sure the event — and the community partnerships that stem from it — are successful and work for the benefit of the entire community.

Our National Night Out events are so great that they have placed first nationally in our population group five times — 2008, 2009, 2014, 2016 and 2018 — and had 14 straight years of top-five finishes. The events are judged based on a video and folder of documentation sent to the National Association of Town Watch, which started the event.

But the real winners are everyone here in Suffolk — everyone except the criminals, that is. When neighbors get together and get to know the public safety officers protecting their communities, coalitions are formed that can help deter crime and keep everyone safer.

Unfortunately this year, there is a more insidious danger at work. Crime is still a problem we must fight against to keep our community safe, but the COVID-19 pandemic is real. Keeping our community safe, this year, means we must avoid gathering in large groups as we have done in previous years.

However, the mission of National Night Out will continue. The city announced the new “National Night In” earlier this week. This will be a video project in which the entire community is asked to participate. City residents are asked to create and share a short video about their participation in National Night Out and upload it at www.suffolkva.us/2020nnoportal. Videos taken with a smartphone are fine, and older folks are encouraged to ask their children and grandchildren. Videos should be uploaded by 5 p.m. Sept. 18 so they can be compiled and shared in a “National Night IN 2020” video program that will debut on the National Night Out website, the city’s municipal channel and social media on Oct. 6.

Suffolk’s theme for National Night Out 2020 is “Create Community Connections,” and we can still do that virtually — one video at a time. We hope everyone will participate.