On August 7th, 2012, all Gene B. Glick Communities will participate in the National Night Out, an annual drug and crime prevention event sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch (NATW). Traditionally people leave their outdoor lights on as a sign of participation and to prevent crime although many of the Glick communities will include activities, guest speakers, giveaways and games to celebrate the day.
The History of NATW and National Night Out
The National Association of Town Watch (NATW) is a nonprofit, crime prevention organization which works in cooperation with thousands of crime watch groups and law enforcement agencies throughout the country. Since 1981, NATW has been dedicated to the development, growth and maintenance of organized crime and drug prevention programs nationwide. NATW’s network has grown to include over 6,500 crime, drug and violence prevention organizations.
National Night Out, ‘America’s Night Out Against Crime,’ was introduced by the Association in 1984. The program was the brainchild of NATW Executive Director Matt A. Peskin.
In an effort to heighten awareness and strengthen participation in local anticrime efforts, Peskin felt that a high-profile, high-impact type of crime prevention event was needed nationally. At that time, he noted that in a typical ‘crime watch community’, only 5 to 7% of the residents were participating actively. Due to the growth and success of these programs, he felt this percentage was too low. Subsequently, he proposed a national program which would be coordinated by local crime prevention agencies and organizations – but that would involve entire communities at one time. The first National Night Out was introduced early in 1984 – with the event culminating on the first Tuesday in August.
That first year, 400 communities in 23 states participated in National Night Out. Nationwide, 2.5 million Americans took part in 1984. The seed had been planted. In subsequent years, participation has grown steadily. The 27th Annual National Night Out in August 2010 involved 37.0 million people in 15,110 communities from all 50 states, U.S. territories, Canadian cities, and military bases worldwide. National Night Out 2011 will culminate on August 2nd. Over 15,500 communities are expected to take part. (Texas will celebrate on October 4th.)
While the traditional ‘lights on’ and front porch vigils remain a part of NNO, activities have expanded considerably over the years to include block parties, cookouts, parades, visits from police, festivals, neighborhood walks, safety fairs, contests, rallies and meetings.
Peskin said, “It’s a wonderful opportunity for communities nationwide to promote police-community partnerships, crime prevention, and neighborhood camaraderie. While the one night is certainly not an answer to crime, drugs and violence, National Night Out does represent the kind of spirit, energy and determination that is helping to make many neighborhoods safer places throughout the year. It [NNO] is a night to celebrate safety and crime prevention successes – and to expand and strengthen programs for the next 364 days.”