After a year of challenges between police and the communities they serve, Montgomery County, Maryland, is one of many locations hosting events for National Night Out, where families can enjoy entertainment and food and meet the officers who protect them.
“This is probably the single most important year that I’ve participated in National Night Out because we need to reengage with the community. It’s kind of a listening tour,” State’s Attorney John McCarthy told WTOP.
In an exclusive interview, McCarthy explained they chose this year’s locations in neighborhoods where police Chief Marcus Jones identified a need to extend conversations and reengage with the community that has experienced tensions with the police and courts.
“It’s hard to hate up close. I think that when you meet members of the community, and the community gets to meet the men and women from the police departments, and the fire department and the sheriff’s department, and the courts that are trying to make their lives better, their family safer, their property safer, all of a sudden you have a face with the people that you’re talking about. It’s a different conversation,” he said.
As the pandemic forced the cancellation of the annual event in 2020, this coming Tuesday will be a chance for police and others in public safety to speak at length to residents, specifically around the rise in domestic violence and hate crimes.
“We want to make sure that people know that our courts are open. We’re there to help victims of domestic violence. We want to give them information of where to go to get that kind of information. We also know there’s been an uptick in hate crimes, particularly targeted against the Asian American community. And we have been actively engaged in getting the word out about stopping the hate in Montgomery County,” he said.
They’ll visit neighborhoods in Rockville, Gaithersburg and Germantown. See the many locations in Montgomery and other areas across the region here.
“These events are also fun. There’s ice cream and hot dogs and sodas and moonbounces. And look, this is not all about information, bring your kids out. This is meant to be a fun community event. It’s very valuable to us. But I think it can be valuable to the community and we can again begin to build those kinds of intelligent relationships that allow us to begin to trust again, so we build a better community,” he said.