In an effort to prevent shootings, robberies and unnecessary deaths, communities across the desert and around the United States stood fast Tuesday and addressed crime in their neighborhoods.
National Night Out is essentially a big block party that brings local law enforcement and the people they serve together to party and to promote zero-tolerance to crime.
The party at the Cathedral City town square ended at around 9 p.m.
Residents said it was a great opportunity to meet the people protecting them.
The same sentiment was shared by community members in Desert Hot Springs.
“Me and my daughter were out here playing around last year,” said Jody Alvarez, a Desert Hot Springs resident who came as a vendor this year, selling security systems and promoting safety. “Hopefully, they get it cleaned up a lot better and they’ll have the children playing outside more.”
The local police department cosponsored the event, and Citizens on Patrol also showed up.
“It brings everybody together,” said Kent Andersen, with Citizens on Patrol.
The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, Palms Springs and Cathedral City police departments, as well as the California Highway Patrol gathered in Cathedral City for an event that drew hundreds and served free food.
The food was free.
“I like the ice cone,” said Danger Drummond, an 8-year-old attendee.
Families had the chance to get to know the officers enforcing the law at the event.
“Most times when people are in contact with them,” said Nancy Drummond, a community member of Desert Hot Springs, “it’s because something awful is going on with them. So, it’s nice that it’s a good environment and not a bad situation.”
Both the Coachella and Indio police departments held similar events in their cities.
“I’ve just met so many people each year from doing this that we still have contact with,” said Jim Knabb, with the Desert Hot Springs Police Department.
“You see a police car go by and you kind of [hesitate],” said Andersen. “Now, they’re friends. They’re people. They’re neighbors.”
“They keep robbers away,” said Orion Drummond, a 9-year-old attendee.
Residents said nights like these make it easier for the public to trust public safety, and officials say it’s a plus for law enforcement as well.
“If they know the kids by a first-name basis and they know their families, then they can be more helpful,” said Helene Nelson, a Desert Hot Springs resident.
Last year, more than 36 million people across the country participated in National Night Out.
Organizers said the same amount of people or more showed up this year.