National Night Out is more than a party, it’s a show of appreciation

On Tuesday evening, Richmond residents gathered at Target to celebrate the kick off of the city’s annual National Night Out event, a series of neighborhood block parties designed to improve neighborhood safety by getting residents to know one another and making them familiar with the officers in their local police department. The nationwide event has been organized by the National Association of Town Watch since 1984.

People ate a free hotdog or hamburger, listened to music and heard public officials talk about the importance of public safety partnerships. Information booths about home security alarms and banking identity theft prevention lined the parking lot. At 5:45 p.m. sharp, four police caravans left Target and visited 26 communities that signed up to be part of the fun.

When the police arrived at Parchester Village Community Center, residents were playing ping-pong, billiards and dominoes. “This police caravan lets the community know they’ll come not only for 911, but they’re interested in the community, too,” said Regina Keels, director-in-charge of the Parchester Neighborhood Council. “It’s good to see everybody. It really is.”

A short drive away, Jasmine Carter, manager of Heritage Park at Hilltop, had her senior residents ready for the men and women in uniform. “National Night Out is fantastic because many in the senior community live in fear of their surroundings,” she said. “To have the police department come is really important because it lets them know they care and that they’re around.”

Frederick Cotton is a painter and resident of Westridge at Hilltop Apartments. Although he had his apartment complex looking good with colorful balloons and an outdoor smorgasboard of culinary delights for the police, he said every now and then he’ll hear gunshots in his neighborhood. “For these guys to come out like that—we’re ready to feed them,” he said. “It keeps the area safe and lets people know this ain’t no where to play. To have this [police] presence is an awesome feeling.”

Richmond Confidential stopped by several of the parties throughout the city. Enjoy the photos in the slideshow above.

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