City News

Different month, but same message.

National Night Out, a program celebrated by millions across the country, has been held in Sedona for many years. But this year, it will be switched from the traditional August date to Saturday, Oct. 7. This free event will run from 3 to 5 p.m. at Posse Grounds Park.

Free hamburgers, hot dogs, chips and water donated by Sedona merchants will be available and the Sedona Police Department, and its partnering agencies will have information available on a range of public safety topics.

SPD Chief David McGill said everyone is welcome at this family event to see the latest in law enforcement, firefighting, safety and rescue equipment, learn ways to make homes and streets safer, and meet public safety officials.

“I’ve been in many National Night Outs in my time with LAPD and Newport Beach Police Department,” McGill said. “Every community is different, and every National Night Out is different. I’m looking forward to having another opportunity to showcase our police department and getting to know our community even better. Being my first here in Sedona, I’m not sure what to expect, but I have many folks working on the planning, and I’m certain this will be the best one yet.”

In addition to the SPD, the event is receiving support from the Arizona Department of Public Safety, Sedona Fire District, Arizona Rangers, Arizona Attorney General’s Office and Sedona Community Food Bank, and is organized by the Sedona Police Volunteers.

“The genesis of this event was to try to find a way to decrease crime and violence by getting the community out of their homes for a night, to meet their neighbors and to mingle with law enforcement,” McGill said. “The idea was that if the community knew each other better, and were the eyes and ears of their neighbors to watch over them and take care of their neighborhood, crime would naturally decrease because everyone would be looking out for each other.”

Humble Beginnings

In a 2013 interview with the Sedona Red Rock News, NNO founder Matt Pekin explained how the event came about more than 30 years ago.

“The crime rate was extraordinary high, especially when it came to residential burglary,” he said. “People were doing all types of things to protect themselves. That’s how we came up with the idea. It was a night for people to sit on their porches with the lights on and for them to see how many people are on their side. The criminals want you to be afraid and for the streets and homes to be dark. This was a way of telling the criminals that we were taking back our neighborhoods.”

National Night Out has become one of the biggest one-day events in the country, with nearly 40 million people participating from more than 16,000 communities from all 50 states, U.S. territories, Canadian cities and military bases worldwide.

According to its website, National Night Out has gone from the symbolic front porch vigils to now a celebration across America with events and activities including, but not limited to, block parties, cookouts, parades, visits from emergency personnel, rallies and marches, exhibits, youth events, safety demonstrations and seminars, in an effort to heighten awareness and enhance community relations.

“It took the first few years for people to understand what it was all about,” Peskin said. “Now, we’re always trying to enhance it and try new things. It definitely feels good that it’s lasted this long. It’s amazing to see how it’s expanded over the years when it comes to the numbers of communities and law enforcement agencies participating.”

For additional information contact SPD’s Sherri O’Connor at 203-5170.


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