About National Night Out Against Crime
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1970: Meet Matt. The period before National Night Out.
It begins in the western suburbs of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Matt spent several years volunteering for the Lower Merion Community Watch program, who works in cooperation with the Lower Merion Police Department. During his tenure of volunteer work in the township, he often patrolled his neighborhood, assisted in patrol dispatch and shortly thereafter introduced the program’s newsletter becoming a representation of the success that took place within the organization and the volunteer work put forth by over one thousand neighbors.
Opportunity to gather new valuable content for the newsletter became more difficult as each month passed. Matt started to reach out to surrounding communities for assistance. This was the aha moment. Matt noticed hundreds of these local groups existed with no shared platform to connect.
1981: Matt established the National Association of Town Watch.
National Association of Town Watch was founded only a few years later to provide community watch groups the necessary information, resources and assets to stay informed, interested, involved, and motivated within the community. Neighbors and local law enforcement across the nation supported the association as it steadily grew for the next three years.
1984: NATW introduced the National Night Out campaign.
Matt knew something more was needed. National Night Out was introduced in August of 1984 through an already established network of law enforcement agencies, neighborhood watch groups, civic groups, state and regional crime prevention associations and volunteers across the nation. The first annual National Night Out involved 2.5 million neighbors across 400 communities in 23 states.
National Night Out grew to become a celebration beyond just front porch vigils and symbolic efforts amongst neighbors to send a message of neighborhood camaraderie. Neighborhoods across the nation began to host block parties, festivals, parades, cookouts and various other community events with safety demonstrations, seminars, youth events, visits from emergency personnel, exhibits and more.