Lincoln County will join with nearly 20 neighborhood communities Tuesday to celebrate the nation’s 29th annual National Night Out event and make a visible stand against crime.
A total of 17 Lincolnton neighborhoods, up from last year’s 10, plan to participate in this week’s activities by each organizing a party filled with food, games and other entertainment related to crime safety, according to Lincolnton Police Lt. Matt Painter, who’s in his first year over the department’s Community Services Division.
“Everyone will come together … to fellowship and meet their neighbors,” he said. “It shows the criminal element that this community is standing together, and crime will not be accepted.”
In addition to crime prevention, officers see the yearly event as a promotion for neighborhood unity along with cooperation between law enforcement and the community.
“NNO represents the kind of spirit, energy and determination needed to make neighborhoods safer places all year long,” Painter said. “I have a blast each year.”
While the point of the event is not to collect donations or monies of any kind, officers hand out a number of balloons, toys, shirts and other gadgets which provide safety-related tips for adults and children alike.
Police Chief Rodney Jordan agreed with Painter that the event is about more than crime awareness and prevention but is “a unique opportunity for law enforcement and the community to meet, talk and get to know one another on a more personal level,” he said.
“We want the community to feel at ease when meeting us and maybe needing our assistance,” Jordan said. “It’s much easier when you can put a face with a name and say, ‘I know that person.’”
He also looks forward to meeting area children and showing them that an officer is “not someone to fear.”
“The community gets a chance to see that we (law enforcement) are neighbors, fathers, mothers, sons and daughters just like everyone else,” Jordan said. “We just wear a different uniform when we go to work each day.”
The National Association of Town Watch established National Night Out in the 1980s and serves to build safer communities through community involvement, the site said. Last year, more than 37 million people nationwide stepped out to support the event in their local neighborhoods.
Local politicians along with deputies, troopers with the North Carolina State Highway Patrol and crews with Emergency Medical Services will also be on-hand for the festivities.
Local National Night Out block parties will be 6-9 p.m. Tuesday at the following locations: