We hope just about everyone who reads this attended the National Night Out Against Crime events at their local police precinct last night. Aside from being a good way to have some fun on a summer evening, National Night Out Against Crime, now in its 17th year nationwide, demonstrates how crucial is free and open interaction between police and the people they serve and protect, especially in New York City.
A police-are-the-enemy mentality prevails in too many neighborhoods. Police are regarded not as the guardians of public safety, but as an occupying army. In some cases, small children have been scolded by parents or caregivers if they greeted an officer. Ironically, many of the people fostering such attitudes are the first to complain when crime takes over their streets. And while they cavil, crime spirals out of control.
National Night Out Against Crime is one of the best ways to improve police and community relations ever devised. The residents of a precinct get to meet the officers who patrol their streets. Officers become better acquainted with the people they see every day whose lives they may be called on to save. Children can get to know police as their friends and protectors while getting their faces painted, photographs and fingerprints put on record to help ensure their safe return if they become lost or are abducted. Car theft prevention programs and burglary prevention discussions assist in making neighborhoods safer for people and property alike and help civilians to see how their cooperation can make police operations even more efficient and effective.
Everyone who went to a National Night Out Against Crime event last night did their local police and themselves an enormous favor. Their presence made it clear to police and the bad guys alike that they want their neighborhoods to be the best places they can be and are willing to work with police to bring that happy day about.
If you weren't there, make plans now to attend in 2001. If you were, the police and your neighbors as well as this newspaper thank you for making the world you live in a better place.