Princeton Police Department will not hold National Night Out event

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The Princeton Police Department has scrapped plans for its annual National Night Out celebration, which would have been held Aug. 3.

Every year for the past several years, the Princeton Police Department has sponsored the event to bring together police officers and members of the community. The event had traditionally been held in the parking lot next to the Community Park Pool on Witherspoon Street.

The Princeton Police Department is not the only area police department that has canceled its National Night Out event in 2021. The Lawrence Township Police Department has declined to hold the event for the second year in a row because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The police departments in Hopewell Township, Pennington, East Windsor and Hightstown are going ahead with their plans for the Aug. 3 community gathering.

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.

In recent years, National Night Out has been celebrated annually in more than 16,000 communities nationwide, in U.S. territories and on military bases. The goal is to forge a positive relationship between the police and members of 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 on the Main Line in suburban Philadelphia, 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 necessary information, resources and assets they needed 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.