Part public relations, part information collection, National Night Out is a night well spent by Garner’s emergency workers.
For most of us, our interactions with police, firefighters and EMTs come at a time of high stress, high tension. The circumstances are not good. Police do, after all, arrest people and help crime victims. Firefighters do extinguish the blaze when our house or car catches fire. EMTs do come to our aid at moments when life and death sometimes hangs in the balance.
And, since most of the time those are not good times to build relationships with emergency workers, it’s hard to know who these people are and how they do the work they do.
National Night Out events give us that chance. Targeted largely toward children and families, the events give all of us a chance to learn more about the people who race to us when times are bad. By targeting children and families, the event can go a long way toward helping young children learn that police and other emergency workers are not people to be feared, but to be appreciated, valued and made use of.
The evnet is also an opportunity for police, firefighters and EMTs to hear from the people they serve. They may pick up anecdotal evidnce that a certain neighborhood is experiencing more than its fair share of speeding or suspicious activity. They may be able to meet people who might have need for EMT services sooner rather than later.
Community policing has lost some of its luster as a buzzword, but National Night Out is a concept based on the the idea that it’s good for emergency workers to get out of their patrol cars, fire trucks and ambulances and meet some of the people they serve.
Stronger relationships between emergency workers and the people they serve benefit everyone. And that, alone, makes National Night Out an important time.