WAXAHACHIE — Building trust and lasting relationships is the mission of National Night Out. The evening brings together neighbors, law enforcement officers, and other first responders to start conversations and share concerns.

Festivities start about 6 p.m. on Tuesday in several neighborhoods scattered throughout Waxahachie.

“The whole purpose of National Night Out is for neighbors to get to know one another so they can look out for one another. As times have progressed with both spouses working a lot of times people have less contact with their neighbor than they did 30 or 40 years ago,” Waxahachie Police Chief Wade Goolsby said. “This is an attempt for neighbors to get to know one another and learn what is normal and not normal in their neighborhoods so they can look out for one another.”

According to the National Night Out website, this event is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make neighborhoods safer and more caring places to live. National Night Out enhances the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement while bringing back a true sense of community. Millions of neighbors take part in National Night Out across thousands of communities from all 50 states, U.S. territories, and military bases worldwide.

Over the past few years’ tensions have grown between the law enforcement community and the public with such incidents as the 2014 shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson to the Dallas Police Department shooting in 2016. The New York Times reported that in that incident, five police officers were killed and seven officers and two civilians were wounded as well when a gunman ambushed them during a protest.

According to the Washington Post, 737 people have been shot and killed by police this year. The officer down memorial page states that 97 officers have been murdered in the line of duty this year, with 10 of those officers from Texas.

Goolsby stated that an event like this holds, even more, importance today to build a strong foundation with the residents that they serve.

“I think this time period for law enforcement is very difficult,” Goolsby noted. “I think that any interaction with the public that is a positive interaction is extremely valuable right now for us.”

The neighbors that have notified the Waxahachie Police Department that they are hosting a National Night Out celebration include the Bent Tree Townhomes apartment complex and the Mustang Creek neighborhood.

“This year our plan is when these neighborhoods reach out to us we will send officers out there. It is for them to meet us and us to meet them. If they have any questions or concerns about their neighborhood or any activity in their neighborhood those are questions that we can answer for them,” Waxahachie Police Department Community Services Officer O.T. Glidewell said. “It is neat to get down to sit with these people in an informal way, communicate with them, and get to know them.

Goolsby shared Glidewell’s thoughts about the different celebrations taking place throughout the city.

“There is no format. Every neighborhood does something a little bit different and that is great. It is just the idea of getting together, meeting one another and coming closer together as a neighborhood,” Goolsby explained. “It is important for us because people who help us help reduce crime by looking out for one another. If they see something that is out of place or unusual they will call us and we will come out and check it out.“

Neighbors that are hosting National Night Out celebrations and would like an officer to come out can contact Glidewell at the police department by phone 469-309-4436 or by email at oglidewell@waxahachiepd.org.