The National Association of Town Watch started the National Night Out (NNO) event in the early 90's. This events intent/purpose is to heighten crime and drug prevention awareness, it is yet a relevant and important message for our communities.
CPAM embraced NNO with it's member agencies and members of retail, law enforcement and the private sector. Grants to assist with NNO were also budgeted for members to apply for to support their efforts and law enforcement joined to created a community wide event that "all agencies could treat as one event". It was great to plan and pull off the events with everyones help.
During this planning time every agency had a crime prevention officer or C.O.P's officer involved in their community and this was the perfect group to help bring the community out to participate and join in the effort to increase the "eyes and ears" block-by-block.
Budget constraints and department downsizing has changed how many agencies participate in the NNO event. Many agencies can't create over time so those that can participate help plan with their respective communities.
The NATW (http://www.nationalnightout.org) has great resources for those that have a budget but you can also do this event with a limited budget and volunteers, the most important aspect has always been, meeting with residents, presenting a message that "we're here for you when needed" , and providing resources from non-profits and services to the community.
R. Coleman, Leg. Rep. CPAM