Local law enforcement agencies kicked off the 38th annual National Night Out campaign Thursday to help encourage people to host “block parties” during this year’s National Night Out on Oct. 5.
The kickoff at the Brazos Center began with a proclamation for this year’s National Night Out, read by College Station Police Chief Billy Couch, Texas A&M University Police Chief Mike Johnson, Bryan Police Assistant Chief Curtis Darby and Brazos County Sheriff Wayne Dicky.
Booths from local organizations, first responder vehicles and a medical helicopter were on display in the parking lot for families to see.
National Night Out is a national event founded through the National Association of Town Watch that aims to build community and promote partnerships and relationships between communities and their police officers, according to the National Night Out website. In Texas, it is held the first Tuesday of October.
“We can’t overstate how important being engaged with our community is,” Dicky said. “We just really have to know each other, and at events like this is where we need to get to know each other, not when there’s a crisis.”
Brazos County Deputy David Wilcox said people’s interactions with law enforcement officers often occur during crises or emergency situations, so they are thankful for those who host block parties to allow local law enforcement officers to build positive relationships with community members.
People throughout the area can register to host a National Night Out block party Oct. 5 where families can host their neighbors and visit with law enforcement officers who will travel to the registered parties.
Darby said one of the most important aspects about National Night Out is allowing neighbors to get to know each other, something he sees happening less frequently now.
With a dozen or so officers on the street at one time in Bryan, he said, there is no way to watch every house or car in a city of more than 80,000 people. However, if neighbors get to know each other, then they can help keep their neighborhoods safe.
If someone knows their neighbor is leaving on a trip and no one should be stopping by the house, but they see a vehicle they do not recognize, Darby said, they can then report that to police.
“They in turn become our eyes and ears,” he said.
In addition to giving neighbors a chance to meet each other, Dicky said, it also allows the neighbors who attend a block party to meet, get to know and ask questions of law enforcement officers in their community.
“When the community comes together and they know their neighbors, they’re able to watch out for each other, make our community safer, and it’s an opportunity for us to get around on [Oct. 5] and visit with the community,” Dicky said.
Veronica Ostiguin of Bryan was at the kickoff event and said her neighborhood has never hosted a National Night Out block party, but she understands the importance of knowing her neighbors, many of whom are elderly.
“We know our neighbors, and we look out for one another,” she said.
Dicky said there is no set goal as to how many parties the area agencies hope to see registered this year. Last year’s numbers were much lower than usual due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Bryan, prospective block party hosts should contact Sgt. Chad Hangs with BPD’s Neighborhood Enforcement Team at 979-209-5300 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. They also can register their party online at https://weblink.bryantx.gov/Forms/NNO or download a form at www.bryantx.gov/police.
In College Station, people should contact Officer Bill Snell with the CSPD’s Community Enhancement Unit at 979-764-2607 or at email@example.com. The form to register a National Night Out event is at www.cstx.gov/nno.
People in the county should contact Wilcox at 979-361-4906 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Texas A&M’s University Police Department and Department of Resident Life will be hosting two events Oct. 5, one at Hullabaloo Hall and one at Century Square from 6 to 8 p.m.