EATON — Nine neighborhoods within the City of Eaton recently came together to unite against crime and rally around local law enforcement. National Night Out (NNO) was held on Tuesday, Aug. 6, in the City of Eaton and throughout the country.
While this is the fourth year the event has been recognized in Eaton, nationally this is the 35th year. It is sponsored by National Association of Town Watch with several corporate sponsors, and celebrated on the first Tuesday in August or October.
According to NNO Organizer Robin Eck, National Night Out is an annual event meant to bring police, fire, and EMS departments together with the community to promote positive interaction. It also brings neighbors together to get to know each other.
“Over the years, people have lost that — it used to be years ago, you knew your neighbor. If they needed a babysitter or a cup of sugar, you went and helped them. Or if you had an issue, like you wouldn’t be home when your child got off the school bus, you knew the neighbor would be there to help. It’s important. I know a lot of people think they don’t need to know their neighbors, but you do. You don’t have to go out buddy-buddy with them, but you need to know your neighbors,” she said.
“The city has so many issues going on and if you see a needle in your yard, and your neighbors are all watching, you may be able to figure out who dropped that needle in your yard. Kind of a neighborhood watch sort of thing.”
Eck added, next year she hopes to increase the number of neighborhoods celebrating National Night Out.
The event was a collaboration between Preble County Community Outreach Group (PCCO) and Eaton Police Division. PCCO is a group which tries to develop programs which will aid the community. EPD had the opportunity to stop by each of the neighborhoods to visit and share safety tips.
While not a part of EPD, Preble County Sheriff Mike Simpson was one of the police officers visiting neighborhoods throughout the city.
“I think [NNO] gives neighbors an opportunity to spend time with each other, get to know each other, and have some good food and conversation. Part of fighting crime is neighbors knowing neighbors — what works in their neighborhood, what is right in their neighborhood, and what’s not right when they see it. I think it is a good time for families to come together for a couple hours a night and spend some quality time,” he said.
“We can’t do our job unless we partner with the community. It doesn’t matter if you are in a [suburban] neighborhood or a rural neighborhood. We need the public to keep the streets safe, solve crime, and this is an excellent opportunity for us to interact with many people we already know. We want to let them know we’re here for them, we want their help, and our job is to serve the public.”
Eck added, “A lot of people think the Police Department are not your friend, but they need to realize we are all in this together to have a better community.”
The nine neighborhoods in the City of Eaton celebrated in different ways. Some had snacks for neighbors and police to enjoy, others offered dinner, and some even had entertainment to enjoy. Eck said, she left the celebration decisions up to the individual neighborhoods.
One of the nine neighborhoods was actually the site of the Better Life BBQ, hosted by the Preble County Mental Health and Recovery Board and Substance Abuse Prevention Partnership (SAPP.) While this event had been held two previous times, the grouo decided this year to host the barbecue in collaboration with National Night Out.
According to Mindy Grubbs, Community Development & Outreach with Mental Health and Recovery Board, SAPP hosts the Better Life BBQ to encourage, support, and educate community members and their loved ones.
“SAPP was asked to also host a National Night Out, so we decided to put those two events together and had the barbecue on the night of National Night Out. It was really for the barbecue, as well as for National Night Out,” Grubbs explained. “We felt like those two events coincide pretty well. We thought pooling them together into one event would be effective, because they’re both along the same lines of the goals they are trying to reach.
“Especially after the violence of last weekend, we feel like our law enforcement is incredible in Preble County. Right now, it feels like there is negativity towards them and EMS and fire department,” Grubbs said. “We want to support community building – they’re out there risking their lives. Their whole job is to support the community. That event is to promote law enforcement getting to know the community, vice versa, better.
“We want to support that as much as possible, and with the problem with drugs and everything, that is our issue and is a big issue in our county. Things that we can do to help those relationship and to fight the drug problem, is what we want to be doing.”
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH