By Gary Jenkins
BAPA Safety Liaison
Every first Tuesday in August people across the nation take a couple of hours out of their summer relaxing to come together for National Night Out, a community-building campaign that promotes police/community partnerships in making neighborhoods safer. National Night Out is an opportunity for the police and community residents to come together under positive circumstances.
This year, National Night Out is Tues., Aug. 3. In Beverly/Morgan Park, the 22nd District police come together with residents, clergy, civic organizations, business leaders, local stake holders for the celebration.
National Night Out came to be because one dedicated volunteer had the simple desire to have multiple communities share in the collective goal to keep their communities safe and secure.
In 1970, a resident of suburban Philadelphia named Matt volunteered with the community watch program which worked closely with his local police department. He created a newsletter to chronicle the efforts and successes of that collaboration. When reached out to other local community organizations to share information in the newsletter, he realized there was a disconnect between groups working to accomplish the same goals.
In 1981, Matt created the National Association of Town Watch (NATW) to provide information, resources and other assets between community watch organizations to keep them connected and motivated to continue working with law enforcement and other groups on community safety.
In August of 1984, the very first National Night Out (NNO)was held. With the help of the established network of civic, community organizations, state and local law enforcement crime prevention agencies, and volunteers, the first year drew 2.5 million participants in over 400 communities.
National Night Out is now in its 38th year, and supported by 38 million neighbors, in 16,000 communities.
In the years I have attended the 22nd District police National Night Out events, each has been a bit different. Some years, police roll calls and prayer vigils were held on corners of streets that residents felt needed extra police attention. Other years, prayer vigils and balloon releases honored fallen police and loved ones. Still other years have been times to for the community and the men and women of the 22nd District to just spend a couple of hours getting to know each other.
Area residents are invited to join the 22nd District for National Night Out on Aug. 3. For information, contact the 22nd District CAPS office, 312-745-0570 or CAPS022District@chicagopolice.org.