Lawrence Township will skip National Night Out activities in 2021 because of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. The event traditionally brings together the Lawrence Township Police Department and the community.
This marks the second year in a row that the annual event, which would have been held on Aug. 3, has been canceled in Lawrence. National Night Out is traditionally held on the first Tuesday in August across the United States.
“National Night Out for Lawrence has always been a significant community event and many police officers participate,” said Municipal Manager Kevin Nerwinski.
But to have so many police officers in close quarters at a single event is not prudent, because of the potential exposure to police officers and the public of COVID-19, Nerwinski said. That is the reason for canceling the event, he said.
Police Chief Brian Caloiaro is considering holding an event later in the year if things improve, Nerwinski said.
This year marks the 38th anniversary of the first National Night Out in 1984, which was held in 400 towns in 23 states, according to the National Association of Town Watch, which sponsors the event.
National Night Out has grown over the years. It has been celebrated in more than 16,000 communities nationwide, in U.S. territories and on military bases. The goal of the event is to forge positive relationships between the police and the community.
The National Association of Town Watch grew out of the efforts of a Lower Merion Township, Pa., man. He volunteered for the Lower Merion Township Community Watch program that worked in conjunction with the township’s police department, according to www.natw.org
The man soon discovered there were similar “neighborhood watch” groups in neighboring towns along the Main Line in Pennsylvania, but there was no coordination among them and no shared platform to connect, the website said.
A few years later, the National Association of Town Watch was formed to provide community watch groups with the information, resources and assets they need to stay informed, interested and motivated.
National Night Out was introduced in August 1984 through a network of law enforcement agencies, neighborhood watch groups, civic groups, state and regional crime prevention associations and volunteers.