2011-08-05 / Government / Neighborhood

National Night Out Kick-Off, a big success

By Josh Cruse

The Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center was the site of “Stomping Out Crime...one block at a time,” the fourth annual National Night Out Kickoff that took place Monday, August 1.

National Night Out originally began in 1984 with participation from 30,000 communities around the country. In 2010 that number nearly doubled to 50,000 communities across the United States.

“ The statistics are showing that communities that get together and lock their doors and go out and meet each other have a reduction in crime,” Columbia Council of Neighborhoods President Mary Baskin Waters said. CCN, a sponsor of the kickoff, handed out grants to 31 communities around Columbia for their National Night Out events.

To Columbia Police Chief Randy Scott National Night Out is about communities getting involved. “It’s very important cause when we have communities that get involved with law enforcement, officers take ownership and the communities are part of the department. It’s more than just an officer and a uniform. Officers actually meet the community members, and they get a personal touch with them. That’s what it’s all about.”

Richland County Council representative Seth Rose sees the National Night Out event as an opportunity to bring elected officials and community residents closer together. “People get to share their concerns with their elected officials. Neighbors that never met before are meeting. It’s an avenue for the community to meet each other and correspondence with their elected officials.” During the opening ceremonies on Monday, Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin declared August 2011 Neighborhood Safety Month.

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