Tuesday night, millions of families across the country will take part in National Night Out.
But, how many of them know why they are getting together with their neighbors? How many know why this all started and what the goal is for police and community organizers?
National Night Out began in 1984 in an effort to heighten awareness and strengthen participation in local anti-crime efforts. The founder of the program felt that a high-profile, high-impact type of crime prevention event was needed nationally.
At that time, he noted that in a typical "crime watch community" only 5 to 7 percent of the residents were participating actively. Due to the growth and success of these programs, he felt this percentage was too low.
Subsequently, he proposed a national program which would be coordinated by local crime prevention agencies and organizations - but that would involve entire communities at one time.
That first year, 400 communities in 23 states participated in National Night Out. Nationwide, 2.5 million Americans took part in 1984.
The seed had been planted.
In subsequent years, participation has grown steadily. The 28th Annual National Night Out last August involved 37 million people in 15,110 communities from all 50 states, U.S. territories, Canadian cities and military bases worldwide.
National Night Out 2012 will culminate on August 7th. Over 15,500 communities are expected to take part.
Minneapolis, St. Paul and the surrounding suburbs win awards every year from the national organization for their efforts on this night. Last year, Minneapolis was No. 1 in the large city category and St. Paul was No. 2 in the 2nd to largest population category. In the 3rd, 4th and 5th categories, a Minnesota city came in the Top 5.
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