By Ana Faguy
Tuesday will be just another day for many Americans. They’ll wake up, go to work, pick up their kids from summer camp, make dinner and prepare for the same thing to happen the following day.
But for local officials and active community members, Tuesday will be a time to come together and see what progress local officials have made in their respective areas — particularly when it comes to public safety.
Tuesday is National Night Out, and dozens of Maryland cities and towns are participating. Last year, 95 cities and towns hosted National Night Out events in the state.
Nationwide there are about 38 million neighborhoods that participate in Night Out, which was started 33 years ago by an organization called National Association of Town Watch. It was designed to promote police-community partnerships and create awareness about making streets and neighborhoods safer.
“NATW introduced National Night Out in August of 1984 through an already established network of law enforcement agencies, neighborhood watch groups, civic groups, state and regional crime prevention associations and volunteers across the nation,” National Night Out’s website reads. “Neighborhoods across the nation began to host block parties, festivals, parades, cookouts and various other community events with safety demonstrations, seminars, youth events, visits from emergency personnel, exhibits and much, much more.”
It’s a popular event for politicians.
Gov. Larry Hogan (R), for example, will be marking National Night Out with officials in New Carrollton. Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford (R) will be with Charles County Sheriff’s Department officers at their event at the Waldorf Moose Lodge in White Plains. Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker (D) is planning to hit four events in his county — Upper Marlboro, Capitol Heights, Temple Hills and Fort Washington.
Annapolis was one of the 95 Maryland entities marking National Night Out last year, but this year the city will separate its National Night Out into five events based on neighborhood. Annapolis Gardens, Bay Ridge Gardens, the Greater Parole Community Association, Ohery Court and College Creek, and Truxtun Park will each host their own events.
“It’s usually done as one for the whole city and this year because it’s the police department’s 150th anniversary they’ve asked more neighborhoods to do kind of neighborhood focused events,” said Sarah Elfreth, a community activist in Annapolis who is also a candidate for state Senate in District 30.
The nationwide event has helped communities across the country and the state develop relationships with those who serve them in different capacities.
The Annapolis Police Department and K-9 Unit Demonstration as well as the Annapolis Fire Department & Fire Engine will be at the Truxtun Park location that Elfreth helped organize.
The police department reached out to representatives from the eight wards in Annapolis to help out with the event. Elfreth and Marc Rodriguez, candidate for City Council in Ward 5, realized that there was not an event planned in Rodriquez’s neighborhood. The two worked with the other members of a host committee to plan as quickly as possible.
“I think nationally it’s a really important cause and issue to get the community to build a better relationship between the community and police and fire and public safety officials,” Elfreth said. “I think the more that we can kind of bridge that gap and the more people, residents know, police and fire officials by their first name and kids get introduced to public safety officials early, it’s just a community building exercise. Hopefully in the long run and if we make this a tradition in this neighborhood I think it’s going to pay off in terms of community relations.”