SUFFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Suffolk Police Department is hoping to come out on top of this year’s National Night Out contest.

They placed third compared to other cities of their size nationally last year, but this year they are going for number one.

Suffolk Police Chief Al Chandler says they know for a fact that the relationships that are forged in these events help fight crime.

He says it’s a lot easier for citizens to trust the police officers when they know who they are.

“This is an opportunity for us to get out and meet our citizens and our citizens to get out and meet us and no one has to be guarded,” said Suffolk Police Chief Al Chandler.

Chandler says they have more than 170 officers patrolling the streets and helping to curb crime, but they can’t do it without the help of citizens in the community.

“If you see something say something, if you witness a crime report it, if you see where a weapon has been hidden, let us know, if you see someone committing criminal activity let us know because we are a part of the community too,” said Chandler.

Suffolk has seen significant growth in the past 20 years since Chief Chandler joined the force. He says the city has doubled in size and the department has grown significantly.

“As you bring the people, more crime is going to come but we have to be there and we are deploying every available resource to make sure we drive crime out.”

Chief Chandler says they’re seeing more illegal guns on the streets and recently made a big bust in partnership with the ATF. He says Suffolk isn’t immune to crime, especially gun violence, but they’re working to stop it.

“We continue to make arrests, we continue to secure indictments and we are going to continue to make that a major focus of our police department the preservation of life is the number one purpose of our agency.”

Chief Chandler says he doesn’t want the first time that a citizen meets an officer to be on the worst night of their life. He says events like this are meant to open a line of communication and forge a relationship so they can work together to make Suffolk a better place.

“The purpose of this event is to put those criminal actors on notice that we are working together, law enforcement and citizens to rid our neighborhoods of this crime,” said Chief Chandler.

Suffolk has 25 events going on for National Night Out this year.

To view the full list of events, click here.