JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Several local law enforcement agencies participated in National Night Out on Tuesday evening.
The annual event aims to strengthen the relationship between law enforcement officers and the people in their communities. It started in the 1980s and has now reached all 50 states, involving 38 million neighbors.
News4Jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson spent more than two decades with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. He said the annual event helps build trust and a sense of community.
“It helps strengthen your police department because you have an open door relationship, it’s a two-way relationship, it’s not us against them and vice versa,” Jefferson explained. “It makes the community better because people feel good about where they live and what’s going on.”
National Night Out events were held Tuesday night nationwide. Many included kid-friendly activities, cookouts and safety demonstrations.
The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office tweeted out photos of officers at community gatherings, which included the Ait Unit giving a presentation to people in Fort Caroline Club Estate, grilling out in several neighborhoods and an ice cream social.
It’s #NationalNightOut!— Jax Sheriff's Office (@JSOPIO) August 7, 2019
ZONE 3 Heavenside Neighborhood was grilling, talking, and engaging! Doesn’t get better than that.
Thank you for making #NNO2019 a success! Communities partnering with police make a difference. You make a difference. #NNO #ilovejax pic.twitter.com/V50Vq87ZYU
The Nassau County Sheriff’s Office was at the Home Depot in Yulee from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. for National Night Out. The Sheriff's Office helped families get ready to go back to school. The first 100 people to get there received free school supplies. There was also a drawing for other school supply prizes. Families also got to hang out with Skittles the Clown and check the Instrument Zoo. Plus, K-9 Maggie was there to greet children!
In Clay County, the community came out to the Orange Park Police Department on Smith Street from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. to talk with officers and learn about crime prevention strategies. Children got to meet some K-9s and clowns with balloons. Officers also collected school supplies and will deliver them to schools in the area.
From 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office and the St. Augustine Beach Police Department were at the St. Johns County Beach Pier. Families got a chance to get up close and personal with the equipment and vehicles. There was even a helicopter for children to explore.
National Night Out also served as an opportunity for people to ask officers questions or express any concerns in the community.