The Waxahachie Police Department is stepping up its community relations efforts with the annual National Night Out campaign, calling it “a great opportunity for citizens and law enforcement to partner up against crime.”

The department said first responders will be out and about in the community at cookouts, block parties and neighborhood walks.

“During the event, residents in neighborhoods throughout Waxahachie are asked to turn on their porch lights, lock their doors and spend the evening outside with their neighbors, police officers, firefighters and EMS paramedics,” the department said.

In Red Oak, the police and fire departments are teaming up to host the national campaign at the Red Oak Police Department.

“The primary goal of National Night Out is for the community as a whole – the police department, the fire department and all of the citizens – to get together and find out ways to solve problems, prevent crime, get to know each other,” Lt. Marc Schroeder said.

In a party atmosphere, vendors will be on hand with free food, raffle prizes and other giveaways, including goody bags for children.

Residents will also get to tour police and fire vehicles, and participate in safety demonstrations.

“Every year we try to keep it fresh and create new displays and exhibits,” Schroeder said.

NNO started in 1984, and “involved 2.5 million neighbors across 400 communities in 23 states,” according to the organization’s website natw.org.

The national campaign is sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch, a non-profit organization that partners with law enforcement-affiliated crime watch programs. It occurs in August in most states, except in Texas where it unfolds in October when temperatures are cooler.

“National Night Out enhances the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement while bringing back a true sense of community,” natw.org points out. “Furthermore, it provides a great opportunity to bring police and neighbors together under positive circumstances.

“Neighborhoods host block parties, festivals, parades, cookouts and various other community events with safety demonstrations, seminars, youth events, visits from emergency personnel, exhibits and much, much more.”

Waxahachie neighborhoods will celebrate NNO on Oct. 1, 6 to 8 p.m.

The Red Oak Police Department opens the station to residents on Oct. 8, 6 to 8:30 p.m.