Police, local residents come together for National Night Out Tuesday
Police and town watch groups in New Jersey will join another National Night Out Tuesday, at a time when police in some places are struggling to regain a positive relationship with the locals.
With police-community tensions running high, this event brings residents and police together to get some positive face time, says Matt Peskin, national project coordinator for National Night Out, based in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania.
"It comes at a very important time in terms of police and community partnerships," he said.
Peskin adds people who've seen clashes between police and community members — for instance, recent police-involved shootings caught on video — "are frustrated, because it is kind of a hard thing to watch."
He says most people have a good partnership with their local law enforcement agency, and support them.
"I think that what you will see on 'National Night Out' is probably one of the bigger turn outs that I can remember," Peskin said.
The events run the gamut, from block parties to cookouts and parades to police-community meet-and-greets.
In Maple Shade, Capt. Christopher Fletcher said police will take donations for a food bank, and raise money with a "dunk-a-cop" game.
"It is a chance for us to be able to get out in the community and have a positive contact in a safe environment," he said.
It is the first time the Maple Shade police are actually hosting the local event, in a partnership with local clergy in the town.
"It is extraordinarily valuable, and we have spent a lot of time in preparation and planning for this event," Fletcher said.
A total of 257 New Jersey towns will take part in National Night Out. A list of participating towns is online at NATW.org.
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