LONGVIEW - With less than a month to go before National Night Out, Longview held a kickoff event Tuesday Night to start getting people involved and signed up for the community-building campaign. With the city's growing crime issues, many are hoping to see a strong showing in October.
Longview's National Night Out Kick-off Event took place at Maude Cobb Convention and Activity Complex Tuesday night. The city decided this year's theme would be "You + Blue = One Longview." Many participants at Tuesday's event wore blue in support of the Longview Police Department, which Longview Police Information Officer Kristie Brian said means a lot to the officers.
"This is a great time for our communities to get together and get to know our officers," Brian said. "Then in October, they can have parties and have the police come out in a nice, friendly atmosphere. They can get to know their police officers and just make those connections to work with the community."
Tuesday night's party consisted of a child ID service center, emergency vehicle displays, vendor booths and other family-friendly activities. One of the booths was the Longview Citizens on Patrol organization, which helps patrol the city for the police department. Bill Rapp started volunteering with the organization more than 20 years ago and is now the president.
"People should volunteer for the city in some form or fashion," Rapp said. "It's a part of taking ownership for a city."
Rapp's organization acts as an extra pair of eyes for the police department. He said what his patrol does is not a luxury -- but a necessity.
"There are not enough policemen in the city, so we have about 35 members," Rapp said. "If we see anything happening, we communicate with the department right away."
Longview Citizens on patrol was one of many groups setting up shop Tuesday night, encouraging people to join them in National Night Out in October. Brian said it will not only be a day to have a family-friendly party but to strengthen police relationships in a comfortable environment.
"Every year, the police officers go, 'Oh, I went to that one last year,' Brian said. 'I want to go to that one again.' They kind of build those relationships, which is really important."
It is important for the department and many of the people in Longview. Heather Herzig is the president of the Greater Longview Area Apartment Association. She said she has always been a believer in connection with officers.
"If we all take baby steps into making our communities better and safer, others can watch and we can lead by example," Herzig said.
Heather Herzig said she understands National Night Out won't radically fix the city's legitimate crime issues, but she hopes it can set the right example.
"We want to let Longview know that we can have a good time without the crime," Herzig said. "Crime needs to end in Longview and all over the nation."
The city of Longview will be taking part in National Night Out Tuesday, October 4. If you are part of an organization or crime watch that wants to be a part of National Night Out, you can sign up here.
(© 2016 KYTX)