According to the National Observances Calendar, National Night Out is an annual community building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make neighborhoods safer, better places to live.
National Night Out provides a great opportunity to bring police and community members together under positive circumstances. Millions of neighbors take part in the celebration annually in all 50 states, U.S. territories, Canadian cities, and military bases worldwide on the first Tuesday in August.
Typically, neighborhoods host block parties, festivals, parades, cookouts and other community events with safety demonstrations, seminars, youth events, exhibits and visits from emergency personnel. This annual event got its start in 1984 through established law enforcement agencies, neighborhood watch groups, civic groups, state and regional crime prevention associations and volunteers across the nation.
Today, the event has grown to involve 38 million neighbors in 16,000 communities.
Here on Kauai, the police force is active in promoting positive community relations not just in August but throughout the year. The community relations section of the Kauai Police Department provides various services such as conducting crime prevention training on various subjects, providing speakers for events, conducting police station tours, starting Neighborhood Watch programs, and initiating Neighborhood Walk programs.
The Kauai Police Activity League website has information on how to request services and speakers. You can also use the website to anonymously report suspicious activity. As well, on the K-PAL site you can obtain a business security self-assessment form or a residential security self-assessment form to evaluate your crime risk at home or your place of business.
The Kauai Police Activity League is a nonprofit organization devoted to developing character, self-discipline, and healthy lifestyles among Kauai’s youth while strengthening police-community relations. In the past year the K-PAL programs reached over 1,200 youth on Kauai.
The motto of K-PAL is to “fill playgrounds not prisons” and to do so by providing positive role models and positive experiences for youth so they are assisted in reaching their full potential rather than falling victim to drug usage and the lifestyle associated with illegal activities. The D.A.R.E (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program recognizes kids at school who commit to just say no to drugs.
The D.A.R.E. program is a police facilitated educational program that seeks to prevent the use of controlled drugs, gang membership and violent behavior.
The Kauai Police Department also takes a tough stance on domestic violence and provides information, community referrals and support for those who encounter abuse within their family.
The Kauai Police Department was among the first to implement the use of body-worn cameras. The benefits of the body-worn cameras include documentation of encounters between the public and police, improved evidence collection, increased officer and civilian safety through the reduction of force, enhanced agency transparency, enhanced community trust, and less expense for internal investigations.
It is noteworthy that departments that have utilized body-worn cameras have seen a 52 percent reduction in citizen complaints and a 42 percent reduction in the use of force by police officers. The Kauai Police Department website has a “Chief’s Corner” page where the chief will respond to questions posed by community members as well as keep the community apprised of changes and innovation at the police department.
One of the most innovative and fun events that the KPD hosts to involve the community is “Shop with a Cop” in December, wherein kids are treated to a breakfast at Little Caesars in Kmart and then get to spend a $50 gift certificate while shopping with a cop. Last year, 50 children from various local agencies got to participate in the event.
These programs are helpful in building stronger more positive connections between the police and the community members. If you tune into Channel 54 (cable) and watch my TV program on Community Camera, in the month of August at around 6 a.m., noon and 6 p.m. Monday to Friday, you will hear and see a discussion between myself and local lawyer Craig de Costa on this very subject.
I hope you tune in this coming month and in future months for discussions based on the National Observances Calendar. Aloha!
Dr. Jane Riley, EdD., is a certified personal fitness trainer, nutritional adviser and behavior change specialist. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 212-8119 cell/text. and www.janerileyfitness.com