Often a swarm of police cars, fire trucks and city vehicles in a neighborhood can be signs of a tragedy.
But Tuesday night across Rock Hill — that could not have been any further from the truth.
As a part of the National Association of Town Watch’s National Night Out program, local leaders once gain added a Rock Hill twist to the event designed to strengthen relations between the community and the police sworn to protect it.
Firefighters, utilities crews and Neighborhood Empowerment employees split up into five groups, making their way to 30 different neighborhoods.
SEE BELOW: Photo gallery of National Night Out events in Rock Hill
At some events, the plans were simple: bring the kids, scarf a Snow Cone and enjoy a cold beverage or two. At others, organizers catered barbecue pork and fried chicken.
“You get to have a neighborhood gathering that’s all about fun,” said Neil Barber, head of the Rock Hill Council of Neighborhoods between emceeing his neighborhood’s own block party. “You get to share some information about our community services. It’s a great time to get together and have a little family time — and include the family that’s a city.”
Rock Hill Police Chief Chris Watts led a caravan with Mayor Doug Echols, police officers and firefighters.
“It’s more of a fellowship with the police department and other city departments as well as getting to know the community,” Watts said. “We want to work together to minimize crime.”
During each of the stops, Watts and Echols spoke with their neighbors — and constituents — about the needs facing their neighborhoods that might not otherwise surface. Echols said for the children, in particular, it was an experience that showed them a different side of the police department.
“You just never know what seeds can be planted by that happening,” he said. “It shows the police department in a light of public safety, not so much in heavy-handed enforcement, that they have to do sometimes. You built it one neighborhood at a time.”
In York, Mayor Eddie Lee and city council broke from a regular council meeting to kick off the National Night Out festivities in the county seat. The city held a block party on N. Roosevelt Street including a competition where law enforcement agencies across York County showed off their cars.
National Night out is a national program organized by the National Association of Town Watch. Formed in 1984, the event garnered just 2.6 million participants nationwide. Today, more than 16,000 neighborhoods and nearly 37 million Americans take part in the nationwide event on the first Tuesday in August.
Photos by Andrew Kiel/OTS Media Group