REEDSPORT -- National Night Out is right around the corner, inviting the community to meet their neighbors as well as local law enforcement personnel and learn about what local the police, sheriff and fire fighters do to keep the community safe.
National Night Out will take place in Lions Park on August 6 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The evening will feature a barbecue and games as well as representatives and information from Reedsport Police, the Volunteer Fire Department, CERT, the Forest Service and the Coast Guard. According to Charlene Lohf, dispatch representative and administrative assistant of the chief of police, the event is a good time to get safety information to the community and join together to connect with everyone.
This year, National Night Out falls on Reedsport's centennial anniversary; as a result, there will be a few extra activities in place. Lohf said there would be an ice cream truck, games and drawings for prizes from businesses among other activities.
"There should be a really good turnout, I would imagine," Lohf said. "There usually is a good turnout for the event, and I expect this year there will be even more people there."
National Night Out is a community-building campaign designed around improving relations between the community and law enforcement personnel. The event was first introduced in 1984 and quickly spread to 23 states and across 400 communities. Lohf said it was originally a way for communities to take back parks and public spaces from gangs or other crime and grew into the more public relations-focused event of today.
One outcome of the event is having people meet police officers, fire fighters and sheriff's deputies outside of a high-stress situation. This opens the door to children, and even some adults, becoming more comfortable with law enforcement personnel as people; as a result, they can be more comfortable around them and willing to call for help as well as working with officers.
"It's nice to build a rapport with the community, especially on a positive level," Lohf said. "That way it's not every time they have contact with law enforcement, it's a negative event. It'll help, because they talked with Officer Whoever during the National Night Out; when (the officer) comes to their house with a problem, they know them a little bit, it makes them a little more comfortable."
She added it also helps the officers by letting them get to know the people they're protecting every day.
"The best way to build a safer community is to know your neighbors and your surroundings," states the National Night Out website. "National Night Out triumphs over a culture that isolates us from each other and allows us to rediscover our own communities."
For more information on National Night Out, go to natw.org.