Last month, three individuals who do not deserve to be called human shot two police officers. One of the officers, Herman Yan, recovered, but his partner, 23-year-old Russel Timoshenko, was shot twice in the face and died after five days on life support.
The three perpetrators fled in the stolen car they had been driving, then abandoned the car and fled on foot. Tips from civilians helped police find and arrest the three, even though two of them tried to hide in a wooded area in Pennsylvania.
We cannot be absolutely certain, but we think it is reasonable to assume that good relations between police and civilians played a major part in the capture of the three career criminals. We also think it is reasonable to assume that those good relations between police and civilians have been fostered in no small measure by National Night Out Against Crime, which will be celebrated for the 24th consecutive year this coming Tuesday, August 7, in police precincts throughout New York City.
National Night Out is designed to heighten crime and drug prevention awareness, generate support for, and participation in, local anticrime programs; strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships and send a message to criminals, letting them know that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back. While the traditional "lights on" and front porch vigils remain a part of National Night Out, 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.
Each campaign involves citizens, law enforcement agencies, civic groups, businesses, neighborhood organizations, local officials and other agencies such as hospitals and local chapters of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Children learn that police are their friends, parents are provided information on how to keep children safe and develop the tools needed to aid in children's quick recovery if they go missing and residents of all ages have a good time while learning how to work with local law enforcement agencies to make their neighborhoods better and safer. The 23rd annual National Night Out last August involved 35.2 million people in 11,125 communities from all 50 states, U.S. territories, Canadian cities, and military bases worldwide. On National Night Out 2007, more than 11,000 communities are expected to take part.
We will never wipe out crime entirely, but the good will fostered by National Night Out can only help to foster good relations between police and the communities they serve- good relations that led good citizens to provide information that helped bring three career criminals to justice and that will lead to reductions in crimes and the quick apprehension of those who commit crimes against the lives and property of honest, hardworking, lawabiding people. Events such as National Night Out encourage citizens to work with police to help to make their communities better, safer places. We hope that National Night Out 2007 in Queens will see even greater participation than last year by the residents of every police precinct in the borough. Police and civilians working together in the spirit of cooperation that National Night Out brings will make Queens a safe and thriving civic entity and the pride of all who live here.