National Night Out (NNO) is the brainchild of National Association of Town Watch Executive Director Matt A. Peskin. In an effort to heighten awareness and strengthen participation in local anticrime efforts, Peskin felt that a high-profile, high-impact type of crime prevention event was needed nationally.
At that time, he noted that in a typical ‘crime watch community’, only 5 to 7% of the residents were participating actively. Due to the growth and success of these programs, he felt this percentage was too low. Subsequently, he proposed a national program which would be coordinated by local crime prevention agencies and organizations - but that would involve entire communities at one time. The first National Night Out was introduced early in 1984 - with the event culminating on the first Tuesday in August.
That first year, 400 communities in 23 states participated in National Night Out. Nationwide, 2.5 million Americans took part in 1984. The seed had been planted. In subsequent years, participation has grown steadily. The 21st Annual National Night Out last August involved 34.2 million people in 10,325 communities from all 50 states, U.S territories, Canadian cities, and military bases worldwide. National Night Out 2005 will culminate on August 2nd. Close to 10,500 communities are expected to take part. (For more information, visit National Night Out website).
While the traditional ‘lights on’ and front porch vigils remain a part of NNO, activities have expanded considerably over the years to include block parties, cookouts, parades, visits from police, festivals, neighborhood walks, safety fairs, contests, rallies and meetings.