National Night Out™
the first Tuesday in August (since 1984)
National Night Out™ is dedicated to building relationships between communities and law enforcement. The day and the events that take place on it bring together police and neighbors under positive circumstances. It is also designed to raise awareness about police programs in communities, such as drug prevention programs, and town and neighborhood watch. National Night Out™ is held on the first Tuesday in August, except in Texas and a few other locations, where it is celebrated on the first Tuesday in October.
Events on the day may be small or large and often include block parties, cookouts, parades, and festivals. Community events with seminars, safety demonstrations, youth events, exhibits, visits from emergency personnel, and more are also often held. Events are generally organized by block watches, police departments, companies, and nonprofit organizations. These groups or the people behind them must register in order to be part of the day. Registration is free, and after doing so, they receive information and resources about the day.
The idea for the day started with Matt Peskin. In 1970, he began volunteering for a community watch program in a community outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This led him to eventually start the National Association of Town Watch (NATW) in 1981. The group exists "to provide community watch groups the necessary information, resources, and assets to stay informed, interested, involved, and motivated within the community." In 1984, NATW started National Night Out™. That year, 2.5 million people in 400 communities in 23 states took part. It began with front porch vigils—the turning on of porch lights and sitting in front of homes—and soon expanded to the many events that are associated with it today. Participation has grown as well. In 2016, 38 million people participated in 16,000 communities in all 50 states.
How to Observe
Celebrate the day by taking part in a National Night Out™ event in your community! Look for events such as cookouts, parades, or festivals taking place. If you would like to hold your own event, you must register in advance of the day, and you will then be able to download a guide and coordinator toolkit. You could also become a member of the National Association of Town Watch.