National Night Out never more important

Police, communities need strong relationships
By: Steve Archer, Reporter
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National Night Out, an annual event that takes place in communities across the country, has never been more important.

Held Tuesday, the community response in Lincoln was strong. From the family-themed event at Target to the more grown-up party at Lincoln Hills’ Meridians and all of the block parties throughout town, officers and residents had a chance to meet and talk. The event is a great way to find the issues we have in common rather than those that divide us.

Also, the event can go a long way toward addressing public perception, whether correct or incorrect.

This year’s National Night Out was especially important, both locally and nationally, in as much that it could address public perception here and across the country. In Lincoln, I have heard from residents who are confused by the recent resignation of our police chief. Many Lincoln residents knew former Police Chief Rex Marks because he was a very public figure. He was active in the community and often spoke to service organizations, civic groups and business associations.

Marks’ departure, with no explanation by those involved, has left many scratching their heads and wondering what is going on behind the scenes at the Lincoln Police Department and at City Hall.

Locally, the dozens of National Night Out parties were a great way for our police officers to connect with Lincoln residents and help quell any uneasiness. Although the event did not provide any insight into recent events, it did allow Lincoln police officers and residents to focus on what we have in common.

Across the nation, there is a growing perception, right or wrong, that people of color are treated unfairly by law enforcement. I can only report on what I observe here in Lincoln but I am hoping that communities in all of the 50 states took the opportunity Tuesday night to begin addressing the issues that divide us and focus on the issues we have in common.

Set against the backdrop of the current presidential campaign, this year’s National Night Out, with its potential to build stronger relationships between communities and police departments, has never been more important.

I am grateful that the residents of Lincoln took the time to participate in this year’s National Night Out and help build a stronger relationship with our police department and its officers.