This year’s National Night Out is Tuesday, August 1. The country-wide event offers neighbors to connect, socialize and discuss neighborhood issues.

An off-shoot of such programs as Neighborhood Watch, Night Out was designed to encourage residents to get to know each other in a common desire to assure safe neighborhoods.

Keizer residents have embraced National Night Out over the years. Some neighborhoods hold elaborate block parties with bounce houses, music, games and more. Other neighborhoods are more low-key—a potluck, a few lawn chairs and good conversation.

Families move in and out of Keizer all the time. Chances are high that every neighborhood has had at least one new household move in since last year’s event. That is why holding a National Night Out function is important.

Keizer is generous with its welcoming attitude; new residents will be greeted and given the 4-1-1 on the community. National Night Out is another vehicle to introduce new residents to their new neighbors.

Familiarity and communication between neighbors has been found to be key in establishing safe communities in which people take ownership of their neighborhood and watch over it.

If Family A knows that Family B is out of town yet they see a person lurking about Family B’s home, they know to be suspicious and contact the police. Better to be safe than sorry.

National Night Out has generally been an event for homeowners. We think that apartment complexes and their management should become more involved. Though apartment dwellers tend to be more transient than homeowners, they have a big need to know their neighbors. Apartment building managers and owners have a huge stake in promoting an event that can only benefit their complex.

Keizer’s leaders, including the police department and the Keizer Fire District is very much invested in National Night Out. The mayor, city councilors, the police chief and officers spread out in Keizer; just about every neighborhood gathering is visited. The lucky ones get a visit by a fire district truck, turning kids into junior firefighters for a few moments.

National Night Out, aside from promoting good communication among neighbors, is a opportunity for residents to speak one-on-one with their elected representatives.

The gatherings are also a good platform for positive conversations with  members of the police department. This is good, especially where there is a suspicion and fear of authority figures. National Night Out should be viewed for what it is: just folks getting together, grilling a hot dog or two and discussing issues of the neighborhood.

The city council, police and fire personnel visit as many gatherings as they can, but they need to know about them. Keizer residents can register their National Night Out gathering at keizer.org/nno-2017. For information call Community Service Officer Dorothy Diehl at 503-856-3472 or via email at diehld@keizer.org.

  —LAZ