LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Lubbock communities came together Tuesday night, hoping to decrease neighborhood crime by building stronger relationships with law enforcement.
Lubbock's National Night Out event kicked off at 6 p.m. and went to 8:30 p.m. at three locations in Lubbock. The largest number of people gathered at Sun & Fun Center at 62nd Street and Elgin Avenue.
Nearly 400 people gathered at this event that was founded to help develop relationships with neighbors, but more recently, the 16,000 communities nationwide that participate are more focused on introducing community members to their law enforcement officers.
"Police officers have a really, really hard job," said Dusty Thompson, the lead pastor at Redeemer Church. "And at the same time, you have a community with a lot of different points of pain and history and past…and so to get people together to try and figure out how to make this city a better place is critically important."
Attendees believe this sort of initiative is more relevant than ever.
"We just want to have a good time and want to be friends with one another…want to respect one another," said Glenda Mathis, the executive director of the YWCA of Lubbock.
Texas DPS Lieutenant Bryan Witt was one of the law enforcement officers in attendance, hoping to bond with citizens through casual conversation.
"We're sworn to protect them," he said. "We live normal lives, we have children. We want them to see that."
One of the children who got to meet Witt and other officers was 8-year-old Amanie Anderson.
"He was nice, and he saves people," she said.
For citizens like 10-year-old Emily Dodge, she is less intimidated by law enforcement officers now that she has met several of them.
"I would be confident saying hi to any other police officer because of how they acted towards me," she said, "so it would actually be fun to say hi to another police officer."
With over 38 million people nationwide gathered at similar events, organizers hope this effort will promote understanding and unity.
Lubbock Police Chief Greg Stevens said the event was a great opportunity for officers to engage with the community on a personal level - an initiative he plans to continue.