Decatur police said the 36th annual National Night Out event that happened Tuesday night can help prevent mass shootings like the ones in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio.
Police told WAAY 31 by bonding with the community, people will feel more comfortable in speaking up when they see warning signs that could lead to mass shootings.
William Matthews lives in Decatur and stepped up to cook for the National Night Out block party in the northwest part of town. He said the event gained importance over the weekend when the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton happened.
"If we see something that's out of the ordinary, we can tell the police department and have that relationship to where we're all in this together," said Matthews.
Decatur Police Officer Jami Jones has coordinated the National Night Out event for Decatur police all three years they've participated. He said throwing a football with neighborhood kids and speaking with parents fosters trust and a sense of community that he feels is being lost. He says it could help prevent mass shootings.
"All the parents knew where their kids were. All the parents knew who the other parents were, the kids' names, and they would grow up together. You wouldn't have that type of violence so sporadically like we're having now," said Jones.
Matthews said the bond created at the event is what the community needs to prevent crime of all kinds and not just mass shooting.
"We've got to be a family and this is the start of being a family," said Matthews.
Jones said the benefits from National Night Out are seen slowly. Compared to three years ago, he sees fewer people afraid of officers and more people willing to work with police to keep communities safe.
— Decatur, AL Police (@DecaturALPD) August 7, 2019
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