National Night Out needed in wake of recent violence

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By: Liz Gelardi

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Communities across Central Indiana hosted National Night Out events. It was an opportunity for neighbors to meet each other and stand up against crime.

The Mapleton-Fall Creek Neighborhood has been hosting National Night Out for as long as anyone can remember. Neighbors gathered in Al E. Polin Park, where they chatted over hot dogs while kids played on the playground. Public safety officials said recent violence has strengthened the need for people to join together and work with police.

"We're not going to tolerate crime occurring in our community. We're going to be offended, personally offended, that's what National Night Out is all about," said Troy Riggs, Public Safety Director.

Public safety officials challenged residents to attend the events show criminals the community is united against crime. They also encouraged everyone to personally thank a police officer.

"We need to convince people one way or the other, that law and order is the order of the day and that you will not violate our citizens rights, you will not take over our spaces, you will not harm our children and you will not commit violence in our community," said Chief Rick Hite, IMPD.

The local Fraternal Order of Police introduced a new crime prevention initiative in conjunction with National Night Out. The FOP is bringing back a familiar face, McGruff the crime fighting dog.

McGruff will make his debut at several National Night Out events and he is already signed up to work with several school districts. The trench coat wearing, crime fighting dog is part of the FOP's Building Block Crime Prevention Program. The program will focus on gun safety, bullying prevention, drug and gang awareness.

"We have been frustrated to see other proven programs that focus on anti-bullying, gun safety and violence and drug and gang awareness initiatives fall victims themselves to reduced police budgets and changing priorities," said Rick Snyder, Vice President of FOP Lodge 86.