VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — National Night Out is coming up on August 1, and there are more than a dozen events scheduled in the City of Virginia Beach.
Virginia Beach Police Chief Paul Neudigate says events like these are a way to send a message to criminals that police and community members are teaming up against crime, and they’re not going to tolerate it in their city.
Neudigate says events like National Night Out help with everything from car larcenies all the way up to violent crime.
“It’s to take everything that we do year-round and really acknowledge our community and send that message to those who may not be as collaborative, those that are out there and engaging in criminal activity, it is that message that our City of Virginia Beach Police Department and our Virginia Beach community, were in lock step and we aren’t going to tolerate it,” Neudigate said.
On Tuesday night they’ll have officers from mounted patrol, their SWAT team, the bomb squad, marine patrol and community liaison officers, all working together to build strong relationships with residents.
“It tells the community that we are not just the police, we are one of you. we are your neighbors, our kids go to your schools, we go to the same restaurants.”
Chief Neudigate says it’s also easier to approach officers at events like this to tell them what’s happening in their communities.
“What really impacts our community in the day-to-day are those quality-of-life violations, maybe it’s the car that’s been parked there too long with a flat tire and no plates,” Neudigate said. “Because we know quality of life is just as important as violent crime.”
Chief Neudigate says building relationships isn’t a one day event, it’s happening year-round. He says they’ve really put a lot of effort into focusing on the city’s youth to provide strong mentorship opportunities.
He says they have a lot of community partners and community policing activities, like their youth services unit, which is really geared toward year-round activities with kids.
“We’ve got our Blue Knights Chess Club, we’ve got our officers in the rec centers this summer.”
He says they also have a cadet program to encourage recent high school grads to maybe join the force one day.
“Unfortunately we have some youth in our community and sometimes the only mentorship and structure that they have is at schools, and our school resource officers play a large part in that so when they graduate sometimes they lose that structure and then they can go out and make some poor lifestyle choices because they’ve lost that structure,” Neudigate said. “We hope to embrace the youth and especially our young adults when they graduate, help maintain some of that structure, mentorship, guidance, leadership.”
Chief Neudigate says when people believe in the department, they feel more comfortable coming forward with information to help solve cases and get criminals off the streets.
“When the community sees us everyday and they know that we are partnered with them and they can trust us, they’re going to come forward.
To view the full list of events, click here.