Neighborhoods and police unite in an effort to prevent crime

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Grand Rapids residents Tuesday will join millions of citizens and police officers across the nation in observation of the 33rd annual National Night Out, the event that aims to unite neighbors and police in crime and drug prevention.

This year, the Salvation Army Kroc Center is teaming up with the Garfield Park Neighborhood Association, one of many neighborhoods participating in Tuesday night's event.

"With current events being what they are, everyone feels stressed and isolated, and we’re in world where we don’t always know our neighbors these days," said Jon Shaner, marketing director at the Kroc Center.

"It is so important for the neighborhood and police to come together," said Sgt. Terry Dixon with the GRPD. Sgt. Dixon says National Night Out is a way to show criminals the city is fighting back against crime.

"This is a wonderful opportunity for us to be out there and to listen and hear what the community concerns are so we can be more responsive to the community's needs," Sgt. Dixon said.

The Kroc Center is one of more than a dozen host sites holding events Tuesday night, fighting crime with fun activities including a slip and slide, food and games, along with a visit from local EMS, fire crews and police.

Shaner says National Night Out promotes unity in several different ways. "It’s just kind of understanding we’re taking back our neighborhoods, fighting crime, just kind of getting people out and aware of what’s going on in their back yard," he said.

The annual event encourages community comradery, involvement in crime prevention activities, and trust between citizens and police.

"We know how to laugh," said Dixon of police officers. "We cry. We're just like everyone else. We have families, we're sons, we're daughters, we're aunts, uncles, fathers, husbands, and wives. We’re people too, and we want to interact with other people to show that." Dixon says that interaction will improve neighborhoods and get criminals off the streets.

Events Tuesday are free and open to the public.

For a full list of neighborhoods participating in National Night Out, click here.

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