National Night Out Promotes Safer Neighborhoods

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Thousands of communities across the nation will celebrate the 31st annual National Night Out Tuesday.

The one night event promotes neighborhood camaraderie, and families are encouraged to take a vested interest in their neighbors' safety and well being.

Neighborhoods celebrate with block parties, potlucks, cookouts and pool parties. At Metropolitan Community Church in South Omaha, they will also give out free school supplies to kids. Church members at MCC went door to door to invite neighbors to the block party.

"For one night a year this becomes an opportunity for all of our neighbors to get together and get to know each other. And when they do that then they are more likely to watch out for each other, crime goes down and the quality of life goes up," said Tom Emmett, Pastor of Metropolitan Community Church in South Omaha.

Preventing crime is a goal of National Night Out, which is organized nationally by the National Association of Town Watch. Neighbors are encouraged to join or start Neighborhood Watch groups.

There are 1,352 Neighborhood Watch groups across the metro area according to Omaha police. Officers said the groups have an impact on lowering crimes.

Marcia Hinkle, with the Neighborhood Watch in the Sunny Slope Park area, said they started their watch group after several break-ins in the area. They were then able to prevent another crime from happening by working together.

"A neighbor saw someone going behind houses and trying to get into back doors. They called police initially, of course, and then called those neighbors who were nearby and made them aware that this was going on," said Hinkle.

Hinkle and her neighbors plan to have a potluck at Sunny Slope Park.

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