When the organizers of National Night Out (NNO) introduced this idea to the nation, it was billed as a wonderful opportunity for communities nationwide to promote police-community partnerships. The campaign, according to their website, has turned into a celebration across America of an effort to heighten awareness and enhance community relations. Now more than ever, this communication with the public and the Police needs to be celebrated.
The whole idea of National Night Out is not just to have one night where people can gather to-gether and feel safe, but more importantly to bring together the community in a neighborhood type atmosphere, to meet police officers, firemen and EMS professionals. This is our way of tell-ing the citizens ‘thank you’ and showing them how important it is to have a partnership with the people that live, work and visit our communities. Matt Peskin, founder and executive director of National Association of Town Watch [est. 1981] introduced the National Night Out program in 1984. This year, all three of the Tri-City municipalities will be celebrating National Night Out on August 7. In addition to the police department’s attempts to improve relationships with the community, fire departments are also involved in the effort to improve communication between citizens and the departments.The idea for national night out began in the western suburbs of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Peskin spent several years volunteering for the Lower Merion Community Watch program, who works in cooperation with the Lower Merion Police Department. During his tenure of volunteer work in the township, he often patrolled his neighborhood, assisted in patrol dispatch and shortly thereafter introduced the program’s newsletter. The newsletter became a representation of the success that took place within the organization and the volunteer work put forth by over one thousand neighbors. Opportunity to publish new and creative content became more and more difficult as each month passed. Peskin began to reach out to surrounding townships and communities for assistance. And that’s where it all began. Peskin realized that hundreds of community watch groups exist-ed without a platform or association to connect them together.
National Association of Town Watch was founded only a few years later to provide communi-ty watch groups the necessary resources and assets to stay informed, interested, involved, and motivated within the community. Neighbors and local law enforcement across the nation sup-ported the association as it steadily grew for the next three years. However, Peskin knew some-thing more was needed.
NATW introduced National Night Out in August of 1984 through an already established net-work of law enforcement agencies, neighborhood watch groups, civic groups, state and regional crime prevention associations and volunteers across the nation. The first annual National Night Out involved 2.5 million neighbors across 400 communities in 23 states. However, the event soon grew to a celebration beyond just front porch vigils. Neighborhoods across the nation began to host block parties, festivals, parades, cookouts and various other community events with safety demonstrations, seminars, youth events, visits from emergency personnel, exhibits and much, much more. Today, 38 million neighbors in 16 thousand communities across the nation take part in National Night Out.
This year, the Mauldin Police Department will be teaming with the Fire Department to cele-brate National Night Out .The event will be held on the grounds of the Cultural Center and will include a live band, free hot dogs, a farmers market with vendors and food trucks and a perfor-mance by T- Motions dance troupe. The Police Department will also have a demonstration of their K-9 unit with an officer dressed in his bite suit.
The Simpsonville Police Department is excited to participate in the 35th annual National Night Out Aug. 7 at City Park, where there will be food, games and prizes.
The event will feature free hamburgers, hotdogs and drinks; a car show, games including corn-hole and basketball; and a chance to win a grand prize 43-inch TV set. A medical transport heli-copter, ‘drunk driving’ simulation and fire prevention smokehouse will also be on site. Simpsonville Police Chief Michael Hanshaw said National Night Out gives staff an opportunity to interact with the citizens they serve on a daily basis in a “more friendly and casual setting. Chief Hanshaw added, “I believe events such as this one are important in furthering and strengthening our partnerships with not only our citizens, but our businesses and other leaders within our community. This is just another way we can work together to make the City of Simp-sonville a great place to live and work!”
Fountain Inn Police Chief Keith Morton remarked, “NNO is an opportunity for us to change public perception from ‘the Police exist to catch you when you’re bad’, to ‘the Police are here to help you anytime you need us’!”
The event will take place both on Main Street and Depot Street. The Fountain Inn Police De-partment is providing Hot Dogs, Chips, Ice Cream, and Pepsi Products. Bounce Houses, a Track-less Train, a DJ and an Off Road Car show sponsored by Palmetto 4×4. Along with the police department, the fire department will be providing trucks for a touch a truck day, a trackless train as well as other activities for the children. Local churches have once again graciously volunteered to help with the event. According to sources at the city the downtown Main Street will be closed off beginning at four for set up. The event will take place from 6 to 8 PM on August 7.♦