It’s the one organized night of the year where neighborhoods, law enforcement and city leaders come together to celebrate the good parts of their community.
And despite the threat of rain Tuesday night, hundreds of children and their parents turned out to block parties across the City of Rock Hill for the nationwide National Night Out.
In the back parking lot of Flint Hill Baptist Church, seven houses of worship came together to serve a hot meal and dole out school supplies.
Rock Hill Police officer Larry VanderMolen said events the block party Tuesday give him an opportunity to show the positive side of law enforcement.
“Most times when people call us it’s for a bad reason,” VanderMolen said. “This right here–we get to put a face to the police department and get to mingle on a personal level.”
VanderMolen and a dozen other officers from the department’s newly-formed Street Crimes Unit attended the Flint Hill block party, and was joined by Rock Hill Police Chief Chris Watts.
Watts, who was just sworn into his new role as Chief in January, said National Night Out means he gets to go beyond the walls of the Black Street Law Center.
Before he was appointed Chief by City Manager David Vehaun, Watts was the department’s Support Services captain and handled administrative services like records, payroll and overseeing the city jail.
“I need to introduce myself and meet people. In my past job that was not a requirement,” Watts said. “But now I do need to get out and know people in the community, so they have access to me when there are issues.”
A similar National Night Out event was held in York, where city crews blocked off Roosevelt Street in front of City Hall.
National Night Out, now in its 30th year, is organized by the National Association of Town Watch and is held on the first Tuesday in August.
This year, the effort has expanded to more than 400 communities in 23 states across the country.