SAN ANTONIO - Now more than ever communities need to connect with their police department to forge a relationship, especially in the wake of the horror that unfolded on the Las Vegas Strip this week.
Tuesday night is National Night Out, a chance to get to know neighbors and law enforcement.
Thousands are expected to hit the streets and mingle across the city. It's a way to meet your local leaders, to learn more about what's happening around you and make a few friends while you're at it.
"What National Night Out means to us is our partnership with the community in fighting crime," said San Antonio Police Chief William McManus, who made several appearances at National Night Out events around town.
On Tuesday, neighborhoods across the nation formed a camaraderie between police, city leaders, and the community.
"It's a way to just come out to the communal area and just say, 'Hey, I'm Bob!' Or 'I'm Sally and I live here!' It's a great way to find out who your neighbors are," said Michael Shackelford, director of policy and resources for Alamo Community Group, which held National Night Out events at nine of their San Antonio properties.
Apartment complexes, subdivisions, and local coffee shops were buzzing.
"We'll have vendors, we'll have insurance companies, Bexar County, the City of San Antonio, the fire department participating," Shackelford said.
For kids, it's also a crucial time to learn.
"A lot of the children don't have interaction with first responders like the police officers and the firemen," Shackelford noted. "This really could shape and mold their lives for the future."
Local neighborhood leaders believe that nights like this have a long-term impact on the youth.
"We don't want our kids, in five or 10 years, to become the problem that we're having; like the people who are drinking or they're on drugs, panhandlers. These kids could be that, or they could be college students graduating and becoming doctors, lawyers," said Jason Mata, director of the Prospect Hill Neighborhood Association on the west side.
Mata says that this effort can't just be for one night. It's work year-round. That's the reason why he teaches boxing to west side youth four nights a week at The Advocates Boxing Youth off of Buena Vista Street.
He says that it's a way to keep youngsters out of trouble and off the streets.
"This community is a very beautiful community, very vibrant. We do have certain areas that have high crime, but there are a lot of people out there working on that," Mata said. "[National Night Out] is good for morale. It makes you feel better about the situation where you live at when you know there's other people who care about it and you're not the only one that's up against the wall fighting the world."
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