Texas Living

A Night Out

By James Mayfield 8.1.14

You’ve seen the signs popping up from the grass across your neighborhood: National Night Out is on August 5. But what is that, exactly?

Thirty years ago, the National Association of Town Watch (NATW) launched “America’s Night Out Against Crime” to send a clear message to criminals that a neighborhood was prepared. The NATW works with law enforcement and civilian leaders to develop and promote programs to prevent crime — whether through associations, businesses, civic groups, even individual effort.

The purpose of National Night Out (NNO) is to get people involved in crime prevention activities, let them develop partnerships with the local police force, and create a spirit of togetherness among neighbors. In the beginning, it wasn’t much more than a simple “leave your lights on” campaign. Still, on that very first night — August 7, 1984 — a movement was born.

Today, the annual event means barbecues and block parties, family camp outs and parades down Main Street led by fire engines and police cars. There are rallies and marches, events for the kids, safety demonstrations and seminars, all designed to make your neighborhood a safer place to be.

These days, NNO brings together 37.8 million people in 16,124 communities from all 50 states, U.S. Territories, Canadian cities, and even military bases across the globe. Still, NATW sees it for what it is — not a cure-all for crime in America, but a way to exemplify the determined spirit of a nation to make our communities stronger for the next 364 days.