Tuesday marked the return of National Night Out Against Crime as cops and city dwellers across the five boroughs gathered to continue building the relationship between the NYPD and neighborhood residents.
The National Night Out Against Crime movement began in 1984 and is held on the first Tuesday of August every year. All 50 states — consisting of more than 16,000 local, state and federal officers, according to the National Night out website — participate in the countrywide event.
Thousands of residents came out in Queens, with events planned from precincts ranging from the 102nd in Richmond Hill to the 115th in Jackson Heights. Activities included barbecues, bounce houses, face painting and more. The 104th Precinct offered free dance lessons and a concert at Juniper Valley Park. The 102nd Precinct held raffles in Forest Park and the 110th Precinct gave away free backpacks during their event at Flushing Meadows Corona Park. The 111th Precinct invited residents to the rooftop above the Fairway supermarket in Douglaston, where they could enjoy a bouncy house and mingle with clowns.
Between the fun, residents had the opportunity to meet officers from their local precinct and interact with neighbors, community members, and local businesses. There is no downside to these events.
National Night Out is a great way to cultivate the relationships between officers and residents. While the relationship between the two sides will never be perfect, National Night Out gives residents a chance to get to know their local officers. This is a big deal.
Not only does the event help develop a sense of community, but it also could lead to fewer polarizing incidents between officers and residents. Reducing misunderstandings between the two sides could potentially save lives. Maybe if an officer recognizes a possible suspect, and the suspect recognizes the officer, there could a peaceful resolution rather than one using force.
The overall crime rate was down in Queens in the first six month of 2018, but murder and rape rose, according to the NYPD. which makes a strong case for how important it is to improve the dialogue between the police and the residents they are assigned to protect.
The National Night Out Against Crime movement is positive, well-intentioned and should be applauded for its success in Queens and the rest of the country.