BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) – Dozens of block parties took place Tuesday night in the Brazos Valley to celebrate National Night Out, an annual event that brings together communities and their police departments.
Despite the presence of bouncy houses, snow cones and maybe even a rock climbing wall depending on where you go, this is more than a chance to have a good time. The reason these parties started is to improve our communities.
“It’s about going out and meeting your neighbors, and creating and improving police-community partnerships,” said Tristen Lopez, public information officer with the College Station Police Department. “How can we, as a community, improve public safety in our neighborhoods? “
Police say events like National Night Out provide a relaxed environment where officers can connect with the people they serve. College Station Police Chief Billy Couch says he gets to meet a lot of people he’s never known.
“It’s a win-win for us,” Couch said. “It’s an opportunity for us to meet the community and hear their issues and talk about who we are and what we are, and it gives them someone they can turn to, who they can call on. have confidence to go out and deal with a problem in their neighborhoods.
Tim St. Martin is the president of the Southern Plantation Homeowners Association, which hosted one of College Station’s National Night Out block parties. He says making that personal connection with the police is really important.
“When they are here with us, we have the opportunity to speak to them as individuals,” said St. Martin. “We are breaking down the barrier between citizens and the police. It really is person-to-person. All the officers that stop by who we get to talk to, they’re great.
However, the reason for turning on the grill and playing games isn’t just so the police can connect with members of the community. It is also bringing the neighborhoods themselves closer together.
“It’s a great opportunity for people to see each other and talk, and maybe find out that you are dining with someone who also lives on your street,” said St. Martin. “My son goes to Spring Creek Elementary School, and he recognizes kids from school that he didn’t know were in the neighborhood.
“The neighbors can go out and meet,” Lopez said. “We are able to work together to try to understand how we can make College Station a better and safer place to live, work and visit. “
Officers say events like these help them improve policing as they focus on making new connections that aren’t always possible while on duty.
“This is a great time for us to go out and talk to our community, our friends, our neighbors, when there is no stress of a crime being investigated,” said the Lieutenant David Johnson of the Bryan Police Department. “We hear about little things people might not tell us while we are on patrol. They don’t want to bother us with this. These are things we can do to help them and make their lives a little better.
“Most of the time is spent reactively, answering different calls and handling incidents,” Couch said. “Having an opportunity where they are detached from the radio, away from the calls, and just having the opportunity to contact and visit the community is a great thing for us. “
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