National Night Out: Does it work?

A closer look at the annual event aimed to bring the community and local law enforcement together.

HOUSTON- National Night Out is an annual event where people are encouraged to get out and meet their neighbors and the officers who patrol their communities, but does it actually make neighborhoods safer?

New numbers, according to Pew Research Center, show about a quarter of Black Americans say they have no confidence in their local police department.

It's a tone local law enforcement is trying to fix. The Harris County Sheriff's Office who sent deputies and officers to more than 100 events throughout the area and to some communities, like Sunnyside and Greenspoint, where crime is rampant. 

Organizers of the National Night Out event in Sunnyside believe relations with police are better than they appear and that officers here do more than city officials downtown.

"It's favorable with the police that you've seen out here," said Sandra Massie-Hines, Sunnyside resident. "I think we have a great collaboration, a partnership with the community as a whole and law enforcement agencies."

Our cameras followed Sheriff Ron HIckman around as he went to events at Discovery Green, one near Highland Village and to Sunnyside where he patrolled nearly 40 years ago.

"It is a partnership," said Sheriff Hickman. "The community has to work with law enforcement, to have an open dialogue with law enforcement so we have an opportunity to make sure we don't run into problems."

In Greenspoint, law enforcement bonded with community members who told us the event showed the area isn't as dangerous as it appears.

"You'd actually like to have National Night out every night because that way we'd be tune with each other in what we need to do to protect our community and the citizens we serve," said another deputy in Greenspoint.

Even Astros great J.R. Richard came out to support the Sunnyside event. He told the relationships with police vary, depending on who you ask.

"You still have to bring us together as a whole community to make things better because things are not going to get better the way they are," said Richard. "There's got to be a change somewhere."

Most officers and community members believe the event does work.

Houston's Interim Police Chief told us it's important for folks to be able to see officers as human beings and that building relationships helps because it's the only way to develop trust.

(© 2016 KHOU)


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