At least 40 Iowa communities are holding events this evening as part of the National Night Out Against Crime initiative. Some larger Iowa cities are holding more than a dozen events themselves. Sergeant Mark Andries, with the Cedar Rapids Police Department, says there will be a gathering at a swimming pool for a quick, cool dip while one neighborhood is hosting a root beer float bar.
“We’ve got people having barbeques, ice cream socials, a dessert night,” Andries says, “nothing overly fancy, just a lot of reasons to get together.” Organizers say the National Night Out has several goals. It’s designed to heighten crime and drug prevention awareness, generate support for local anti-crime programs, strengthen community spirit and police-neighborhood cooperation, and to send a message to criminals that neighborhoods are fighting back against crime.
“Basically, it’s just to get the neighbors out to visit a little bit, to get to know your neighbor and talk about what’s going on in your neighborhood,” Andries says. “Then, the police will get there and interact a little bit, put some names with some faces and to encourage people that if they see something, to take note and give us a call so we can come find out what’s going on.”
Some of the Iowa cities and counties hosting events include: Alta, Altoona, Ames, Anamosa, Ankeny, Audubon County, Cascade, Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids, Charles City, Clermont, Coralville, Cresco, Davenport, Delmar, Des Moines, Dewitt, Dubuque, Fort Dodge, Grinnell, Hawarden, Iowa City, Lake Mills, Mason City, Monticello, Osage, Polk Co., Sigourney, Sioux City, Storm Lake, Stuart, Urbandale, Urbanville, Wadena, Waterloo, Waukee, Waverly, West Burlington, West Des Moines and Windsor Heights.