Reporting Angela Davis
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – All across the country this evening, people are leaving their living rooms and kitchens to spend some time with their neighbors as part of the 30th-annual National Night Out.
It’s a time when local police departments encourage people to hold block parties in their neighborhoods.
For the last several years, the city of St. Paul ranked No. 1 in the nation for the number of block parties it holds on National Night Out, when you compare it to cities of comparable size.
Minneapolis also regularly ranks first in the category of largest cities. In Minneapolis, 82 teams of officers made up of 180 Minneapolis Police Department personnel will reach out to 1,450 block parties Tuesday evening.
In the Aurora-St. Anthony neighborhood of St. Paul, the party was scheduled to start at 2 p.m.
“The best safety is knowing your neighbors,” said Melvin Giles of St. Paul. “We can all be the best defense.”
Police say when people are familiar with their neighbors and their habits, they become better equipped to help officers solve crimes.
“Because neighbors then look out for each other, and they are more apt to call police when they see something suspicious or any other activity we may want them to call us for,” St. Paul Police Chief Tom Smith said. “Secondly, they get to know the different police officers within the neighborhood.”
In Brooklyn Park, police said they had nearly 200 block parties in the city last year.
“We don’t tell people to be nosey neighbors, but they owe it to their neighborhood to know who belongs in case something were to happen,” said Gerry Gibbs of Brooklyn Park Police.
Mary Fisher lives in a townhouse complex in Brooklyn Park, and has been going to these gatherings for more than 20 years.
“I am very much aware of what happens around here,” Fisher said. “We work with police a lot, we like to have them close by, which they are, and they are doing a great job.”
Brooklyn Park and Maple Grove were third and fourth nationally for the number of National Night Out parties in their cities, within their population category.
In St. Paul, residents are asked to wear blue tonight to show their support for the police department.