National Night Out events represent one of the most utilized and well-known ways that departments connect with their communities. There are a variety of ways that departments utilize this opportunity to connect with local businesses, other first responder agencies, and even nearby law enforcement departments to execute a fun event that connects well with their community. (Check out our blog post for two great examples from our partner departments.)
But, once the event is held, and everyone has had a great experience…what comes next?
A successful National Night Out event will likely result in an increased interest from community members looking for opportunities to get involved.
Here are 3 ways your department can activate the positive momentum gained from a successful National Night Out event:
1. Establish or reinvigorate a Neighborhood Watch Group.
Neighborhood Watch programs provide a proactive way for engaged citizens to support the efforts of law enforcement within their communities. For law enforcement officers, these groups are an effective avenue for educating participants about ways to detect and deter crimes, helping officers to be quickly made aware of suspicious activity so they can respond appropriately.
If your community does not have an active watch program, establishing one is a great way to follow-up with the connections made through your National Night Out event. If a program already exists, the event can act as a medium for raising awareness and recruiting additional volunteers.
2. Connect local businesses with a Business Watch Program.
Many National Night Out events incorporate local businesses to be part of the festivities. Those connections can be further developed through a Business Watch program to continue the connection between law enforcement and engaged businesses.
Similar to a Neighborhood Watch, a Business Watch program utilizes similar tactics within a business setting. These groups establish links between businesses, connecting them with law enforcement to keep these areas safe. Tactics utilized by these groups can help to protect businesses from crimes such as theft or vandalism, as well as protecting employees and customers and contributing to an overall feeling of safety within the business sections of the community.
3. Host a Citizen’s Police Academy.
Many departments are now incorporating the concept of hosting “Citizen’s Police Academy” programs as ways to directly connect with members of the community. Typically, these involve a multi-week schedule that introduces civilians to the many different function areas within their local department. Hosting these on a regular basis allow more people an opportunity to participate, and help departments both educate the public while also providing a structured mechanism for people to proactively show interest in the department.
How to get Started
Getting started is always the hardest part. LAW Publications’ journal titled “Detect and Deter: Volunteer Community Protection” acts as a guide to creating any of these types of programs. Covering both neighborhood and business safety, the book covers techniques for crime detection and deterrence in these settings, and also includes “how to” steps for forming Neighborhood and Business Watch groups.
This book is a great complement to a Citizen’s Police Academy, Volunteers in Patrol (“VIP”), or any other avenue your department utilizes to encourage volunteer participation in your community.
Click below to learn more about how this journal can support your program.