With summer comes smiles, barbecues and memories of running through the sprinklers, but also opportunities for neighbors to come together to enjoy food, play games and share community news.
National Night Out is an annual community-building campaign that promotes neighborhood camaraderie and police-community partnerships to make neighborhoods safer, better places to live.
This year, National Night Out will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. on Aug, 6 in Cedar Rapids.
This year marks the national event’s 36th anniversary and the 20th year Cedar Rapids neighborhoods have participated. In preparation, the Cedar Rapids Police Department is offering neighborhood event organizers a chance to register their festivities so that police officers can stop by and meet residents, socialize and answer questions.
“National Night Out is an opportunity to get to know your neighbors and work together to make our community even safer,” said Cedar Rapids Police Chief Wayne Jerman. “Criminal activity is often prevented and reduced in neighborhoods where residents look out for one another and help each other by reporting suspicious activity. Our officers look forward to connecting with residents on National Night Out and continuing to build trust and relationships with the citizens that we serve.”
Cedar Rapids police Sgt. Laura Faircloth said the event got started as a way for people to better get to know their neighbors and neighborhoods.
“One of the best ways to protect your community is to know your neighbors — to know each other’s routines — that way, when something is wrong or off, you can recognize it,” she said. “So if you know one of your neighbors works at a certain time during the day, and you walk by their house and see the front door is open, you’d likely notice that and recognize that something is off.”
And while out having fun with their neighbors, the police department is reminding residents to protect their homes and belongings by turning on their porch lights and locking their doors.
“Neighbors have to come together, join forces, and take a stand against crime in their neighborhoods,” the police department said in a news release. “National Night Out is a great way to reinforce the relationship with neighbors and local police officers. You can help prevent crime in the community by getting involved.”
Along with the traditional outside lights and front porch vigils, most cities celebrate National Night Out by hosting block parties, cookouts and various community events with safety demonstrations, youth events, visits from emergency personnel and exhibits.
Local National Night Out events can be as simple as a potluck or cookout or as elaborate as a small neighborhood carnival.
“Each neighborhood puts together their own community event,” said Faircloth, who is heading the event registrations. “Usually about 20 to 30 neighborhoods throughout the city participate each year. Some neighborhoods keep it simple, maybe they have a barbecue or a kind of neighborhood get-together, and other neighborhoods have gone all out with games and bounce houses like a mini festival.”
Whatever type of event is planned, the police department wants to remind neighborhoods to register their events with the Cedar Rapids Police Department so officers can stop by and say hello. Some Cedar Rapids fire personnel might also drop by.
Faircloth said roughly 10 neighborhoods have already registered their event with the police department.
“It’s all about safety and prevention,” Faircloth said. “When you get to know your neighborhood, you get to know the routines, you get to know the people in your neighborhood. They’re watching out for you, you’re watching out for them. If you don’t know your neighbors and you’re not aware of what’s going on in your neighborhood, then it will likely be tough for you and your neighbors to prevent crime.”
To get more information on how to host an event or to register an event, visit www.cedar-rapids.org/police or contact Sgt. Faircloth at (319) 286-5425.
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Additionally, registrants are asked to email Faircloth at firstname.lastname@example.org to provide the following information: Event contact person, address, email, neighborhood association name (if applicable), location, hours of the event, police officers and/or firefighters requested at the event and indicate whether media can attend.
l Comments: (319) 398-8238; email@example.com