RPD seeking support for 2020 NNO event

by Cristin Parker cristin@thecherokeean.com

(July 29, 2020) Rusk Police Department is getting ready to paint their towns blue and are inviting community members to get in on the action.

The department is seeking sponsors and donations for its annual National Night Out (NNO) event, set to be held the first Tuesday in October.

“The best way to build a safer community is to know your neighbors and your surroundings,” former Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison said in a statement published by the National Association of Town Watch (NATW), founders of the NNO event. “National Night Out triumphs over a culture that isolates us from each other and allows us to rediscover our own communities.”

According to the National Association of Town Watch’s website, natw.org, NNO is “an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make all neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live. National Night Out enhances the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement while bringing back a true sense of community. Furthermore, it provides a great opportunity to bring police and neighbors together under positive circumstances.”

This year marks the 35th anniversary of National Night Out. NATW’s founder and executive director Matt Peskin introduced the program in 1984, which stemmed from volunteer work he’d done seven years prior with the Lower Marion Police Department in Philadelphia, Penn.

“National Association of Town Watch was founded only a few years later to provide community watch groups the necessary resources and assets to stay informed, interested, involved, and motivated within the community,” NATW’s website explains. “Neighbors and local law enforcement across the nation supported the association as it steadily grew for the next three years. However, Peskin knew something more was needed.”

The first ever NNO event saw 2.5 million citizens in 400 communities across 23 states participate – now an estimated 38 million residents in more than 16,000 communities in all 50 states, U.S. territories and military bases worldwide observe National Night Out.

The Rusk Police Department held its very first NNO event in 2017 and won the NATW’s Rookie of the Year award. Subsequent events have only gotten bigger and better, according to organizers.

“Our National Night Out events have been very, very successful, thanks in large part to our sponsors, volunteers and, of course, our community,” Rusk Police Association President and RPD Detective Nathan Acker said. “And of course, we’re hoping to be able to continue that tradition and make this year’s National Night Out even better.”

Businesses, civic groups, churches and individual citizens interested in sponsoring the event; volunteering to help with the event; or featuring a booth, game or other activity or attraction at the event can call the Rusk Police Department, (903) 683-2677.

Acker said all monetary donations will go to the local National Night Out event, and any excess collected this year will roll over to fund next year’s event.

“We can’t do our jobs without our community’s support,” Acker said. “We want to do everything we can to build positive relationships with all our community members and keep those relationships strong – that helps us solve crimes, protect our residents and generally do a better job for all the residents of Rusk.”