Copperas Cove Police Department is gearing up for its National Night Out Kickoff Party at the end of the month, but it also wants residents to host their own neighborhood gatherings in early October.

“National Night Out is just a good opportunity for people to meet their neighbors,” said Sgt. Kevin Keller, a spokesman for the Copperas Cove Police Department.

The goal of the event is to heighten crime prevention awareness; generate support for, and participation in local anticrime programs; strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships; and send a message to criminals letting them know that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back, stated a news release from the National Association of Town Watch. The association created the event and has urged communities around the country to participate since 1984.

This October will be the city’s 15th year to participate in the National Night Out, which takes place throughout Texas on Oct. 2, but already took place around the county on Aug. 7.

Since Copperas Cove has participated, the city hosts its own kickoff party the Saturday before neighborhoods are asked to celebrate the event themselves, Keller said. The kickoff lets residents come together and meet police officers, other first responders, and other residents in a fun downtown setting.

It is a time filled with fun, games, food, community and some police demonstrations, he said. Every year the department looks for some different presentations for residents, and it is doing that right now. Although the motorcycle-traffic division will give a demonstration again.

Neighborhood block parties are geared toward bringing smaller groups of residents together in a more localized atmosphere that is tailored and unique to their own participation.

A block party can be anything from a barbecue outside to residents coming out and picnicking in their own yard to a street wide closure with bounce houses, games and more.

“It is really whatever you want to make it as long as it is legal and there is little risk for injury,” said Keller, noting one resident in the 900 block of Kelso rents bounce houses and had pony rides for the children.

Traditionally, there has been between five to 10 neighborhood block parties in a given year, but Keller wants more neighborhoods to get involved, he said. “That is not a lot, and I would love to see that number increase.”

There are neighborhoods like House Creek, Western Hills, Hughes Gardens that never have block parties, and those are areas the police department would like to have some participation from this year, Keller said.

If you have a registered party with the city, the police and fire departments will show up throughout the evening with McGruff the Crime Fighting Dog to meet and talk with residents and their children, but ultimately the goal is to get to know your neighbors.

There are so many benefits to helping prevent crime by knowing your neighbors, Keller said. Doing so lets people know who belongs in a neighborhood, helps to watch homes while others are on vacation and more.

“We have crime of course in the city, but some of that crime could be prevented if people knew their neighbors,” he said. “It is always a benefit to know your neighbor and who they are so you can be there for one another.”

Contact Mason W. Canales at mcanales@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7474

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