Aug 7, 2012 at 8:37 am
ST. CLOUD, MN (KNSI) – It's the night each year where Americans take to their front lawns and take back their neighborhoods from criminals. Tonight commemorates the 29th Annual National Night Out in more than 15,000 communities across the U.S.
For those involved in the planning and organization of these events, the reason to get out and take part in your neighborhood is simple.
"We do need to get back to neighbors knowing each other the best they can in the neighborhoods," John Justin, a crime prevention specialist with St. Cloud Police said.
For the past three decades, National Night Out has been about bringing awareness to anti-crime efforts, while bolstering neighborhood spirit and strengthening relationships with police and each other.
"Basically it is a nice night for neighbors just to take out the lawn chairs, gather around the driveway, sit down and have a cold soft drink, or roast a hot dog and enjoy the evening with your neighbors and celebrate our safe community," Justin said.
An added side-effect of the night of camaraderie and friendship building is a more vigilant and involved community that takes the best interests of their fellow citizens to heart.
"The most effective crime deterrent in a neighborhood is the neighbors actually knowing each other and looking out for their neighborhood," Justin said. "If you stop and think about it the neighbors in a neighborhood know when an activitiy is out of the ordinary and when it is considered suspicious."
To further that goal even more, public safety officials from different branches and offices will be attending the more than 50 scheduled events to visit with community members and get to know what they're feeling about the overall state of their neighborhood.
"[National Night Out] also strengthens our city goals, which is neighbors getting to know each other in the neighborhoods and the input we get from the neighbors about what they like in their neighborhoods, what the city could do for them...it is all in that same theme," Justin said.
Nationally over 15,000 events involving some 37 million people are scheduled to take place Tuesday night. Justin said the participation in St. Cloud, to the tune of 50-plus scheduled events, has been pretty consistent over the years.
Justin's final admonition to residents, turn on your porch light, don't forget to lock your own door and go interact with your neighbors...all in an effort to keep St. Cloud a better place to live.
"The old art of getting out and talking to your neighbors has kind of fallen along the wayside with text messaging and the internet, but we still encourage the gathering," Justin said. "That's why we like national night out, a one evening that is dedicated to gathering with neighbors."
Events including block parties, cookouts and anti-crime rallies are set to run across the city from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday night.