National Night Out is evolving to deal with changing times
You could simply call it a block party at Chute Square Park in Minneapolis.
“Getting to know each other,” explains John Larkey with the Nicollet Island East Bank Neighborhood Association. “Trying to make it a more friendly, a safe place to live.”
But on this National Night Out — the goal is much more than food, friendship, and music.
It’s the idea of neighbors helping neighbors stay safe.
“Having eyes on the street,” Larkey says. “Being aware when something doesn’t look right, knowing who you can call, or if you can call someone if you see something.”
Organizers in this 2nd Precinct neighborhood say their concerns have included car break-ins and thefts from unlocked garages.
The association is working with crime prevention specialists like Rashid Ali, to raise awareness among residents.
“It’s all about eliminating crimes of opportunity,” he explains. “So, when you do your lighting, you take care of your backyard. You’re eliminating those chances where you become a soft target. “When you don’t leave things in the back of your vehicle, you’re eliminating an opportunity to rummage through your vehicle or break your windows.”
Ali acknowledges the area is considered a safer part of town.
But he and police are urging residents to not be complacent.
“The 2nd precinct is lower in numbers compared to other precincts, but these can always fluctuate on a month-to-month basis,” Ali notes. “Generally, this is a safer part of town, but we don’t want anybody to take anything for granted. The reason why it’s safe is that people work really hard to be vigilant.”
National Night Out was launched in 1984 — and the association has organized events for this night for the last fifteen years or so.
Police say what started as neighbors turning on their porch lights to keep an eye on the street has evolved.
“Learning to trust the people you live next to — that builds strong blocks,” declares Inspector Sean McGinty from the Minneapolis Police Department’s 2nd Precinct. “Ring doorbells are huge, so we don’t really need you sitting on the porch. We need you meeting your neighbors, and just staying in touch and being involved.”
Neighbors helping neighbors — keeping the place they call home — safe.
“This is our neighborhood and taking care of it and taking care of each other is really important,” Larkey says.