National Night Out celebrates local heroes and the community
Each year on the first Tuesday of August — this year, August 2nd — homeowners across America are encouraged to lock their doors, flip on their outside lights and spend the evening outdoors celebrating with neighbors.
National Association of Town Watch’s (NATW) annual National Night Out program focuses on building relationships between police and community members by offering free family activities, including block parties, cookouts, safety demonstrations and live entertainment. More than 38 million people nationwide are expected to take part this year.
A bit o’ history
Neighborhood Watch is one of the oldest and most effective crime prevention programs in the country, bringing citizens together with law enforcement to deter crime and make communities safer.
Sponsored by the National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA), Neighborhood Watch can trace its roots back to the days of colonial settlements, when night watchmen patrolled the streets. The modern version of Neighborhood Watch was developed in response to requests from sheriffs and police chiefs who were looking for a crime prevention program that would involve citizens and address an increasing number of burglaries.
Launched in 1972, Neighborhood Watch counts on citizens to organize themselves and work with law enforcement to keep a trained eye and ear on their communities, while demonstrating their presence at all times of day and night. (The program took off quickly: in just 10 years, NSA data showed that 12 percent of the population was involved in a Neighborhood Watch.) Neighborhood Watch works because it reduces opportunities for crime to occur; it doesn’t rely on altering or changing the criminal’s behavior or motivation.
National Night Out has been extraordinarily successful in promoting involvement in crime and drug prevention activities, strengthening police-community relations and encouraging neighborhood camaraderie as part of the fight for safer streets. Since 1984, National Night Out — America’s Night Out Against Crime has grown to involve over 30 million people from more than 9,000 communities.
Each year local Police Departments actively participate in the neighborhood Night Out celebrations. Contact Wyoming Staff Sergeant at 616.257.9711 and Kentwood Staff Sergeant at 616.656.6564 for more information.
So, what’s happening?
The day starts out early — 7 am — at the Consumers’ Energy building (4000 Clay Ave. SW in Wyoming), where mayors and dignitaries from Grand Rapids, Kentwood, Wyoming, Grandville and other local municipalities will gather to recite the NNO credo. Here’s a great opportunity to meet your local leaders!
From 10:30 am-2:30 pm, come on out to Woodland Mall near Celebration Cinema and Red Robin for a day of fun, prizes, games, and popcorn! The Kentwood Police Department will have law enforcement vehicles on display so you can get an upfront, close and personal look at the equipment officers use to answer your calls.
South Kent’s 7th National Night Out will feature a Black Hawk fly-in at 2 pm and takeoff at 7:45 pm. The fly-in and landing will be to the west of Peppinos (located at 1515 Eastport Dr. SE), so keep an eye on the sky!
From 5:30-8 pm, join local police, fire and other neighborhood partners as GR Kroc Center (2500 South Division Ave. SW in Grand Rapids) celebrates community safety and togetherness. A giant slip & slide will be open, plus you can test your family’s skills in the Kroc Summer Games. Concessions will be available to purchase and enjoy FREE ice cream from Country Fresh! Sponsored by Molina Healthcare and National Heritage Academies.
The Wyoming Community Enrichment Commission will celebrate from 7-9 pm with demonstrations and appearances by Wyoming PD, K-9 units, a SWAT vehicle and fire ladder truck along with lots of giveaways throughout the night — from kids’ toys up to $50 gift cards. Join in the celebration of local heroes with great local food and entertainment! Don’t miss the last Concert in the Park event of the year — it will be a blast with catchy Conjunto and Tehano music by Grupo Viento de Los Hermanos Valdez. It all happens at Lamar Park, 2561 Porter St. SW in Wyoming. Go here for more info.
Christ Community Church (2400 Forest Hill Ave. SE in Grand Rapids) will celebrate NNO with highlights like face painting, bouncy houses (for the kids, folks), 100-ft-long slip and slides, live music, refreshments, a raffle, lawn games and a dunk tank, with visits from the Kentwood Fire Department, McGruff the Crime Fighting Dog, Kentwood City Police and more. For more info, go here.
There’s so much to see and do, and only a couple short hours to enjoy it! So get involved, join in this evening of easy-breezy fun and create some great memories.
Get Fifi and Fido involved, too!
Have a dog? Consider getting involved with Dog Walker Watch! There are dozens, if not hundreds, of dog walkers throughout the community at all times of the day, all days of the week, in all weather conditions, who are often preoccupied with texting, chatting, emailing and listening to music during their neighborhood walks. Dog Walker Watch trains these individuals how to effectively observe and report suspicious activity. Go here for more info.
Strong police and community partnership is a critical component of community-oriented policing and problem-solving model. Over the past few years, Neighborhood Watch groups have surfaced as highly effective tools in the detection, reporting and prevention of crime and criminal activity.
There are many active Neighborhood Watch groups operating throughout our local municipalities. Group participants hold regular meetings that allow you to meet your neighbors and discuss problems which may be occurring in your district and develop strategies and methods for dealing with them. By becoming familiar with your neighborhood, you are better prepared to detect and report suspicious activity or potential problem individuals or vehicles in your area.
The Wyoming Police department provides personal assistance to Wyoming residents interested in establishing new Watch Groups and with the facilitation of existing programs. If you or your neighbors are interested in establishing a Neighborhood Crime Watch Program in your Wyoming neighborhood, please contact Staff Sergeant at 616.257.9711. In Kentwood, contact Staff Sergeant at 616.656.6564.
Have we missed anything? Let us know — email Victoria at firstname.lastname@example.org.