34th Annual National Night OutBy Yasmine Regester, Staff Writer / August 4, 2017
Share this article:Greensboro residents across the city took time to visit with their neighbors and mingle with the city’s public safety personnel on Tuesday night.
The Greensboro Police Department (GPD) held its 34th Annual National Night Out with the support of 152 neighborhoods hosting events, which GPD officials say was the largest turnout in the last 10 years.
National Night Out is an annual crime/drug prevention initiative designed to foster positive relationships between the community and police.
“It’s a wonderful way for the community to come together with city personnel, firefighters and police officers to build those relationships to make our community better,” said at-large Greensboro City Council member Marikay Abuzuaiter.
The Peacemaker visited Woodmere Park, Willow Oaks, Magnolia Lodge #23 and New Zion Missionary Baptist Church where children enjoyed meeting police officers and firefighters, playing on a fire truck, face painting, food and games. Each location also made sure to distribute information on various topics such as community initiatives, mental health and substance abuse resources.
“As a community, we have lifted one another up to be a voice for the people who feel they aren’t being heard. It’s about empowering others to advocate for themselves,” said B. Akins, president of the Ole Asheboro Neighborhood Association.
With the topic of police community relations at the forefront at many community forums this past year, residents are hopeful that events like National Night Out can help address issues raised during those critical discussions.
“There is so much that divides us. This provides the community an opportunity to come together and interact socially,” said Pastor William F. Wright Jr. of New Zion Missionary Baptist Church. “Often we discover our differences diminish when we share in commonality of experiences. National Night Out has become a rich tradition in our city so I’m hoping we can change this culture of distrust and separation and alienation.”
According to the GPD’s weekly crime statistics report, homicides in Greensboro are up 69 percent from this time last year. Deputy Chief James Hinson said he believes events like National Night Out show how neighborhoods are organized together against crime in their communities.
“This event is one of the main cornerstones of our community and police relationship building. The more people involved will effect crime in a positive way. We are always engaging communities to continue to partner with us. We can’t fight crime alone,” he said.