Southwest Virginia communities celebrate National Night Out to help prevent crime

Roanoke neighborhoods hosted nine different events

ROANOKE, Va. – Communities across the country, and right here in our area gathered for National Night Out on Tuesday. They gather with police for a common goal, help prevent crime and make some new friends along the way.

National Night Out is back after a missed year due to COVID-19. A good crowd showed up in Lexington and also in Franklin County, where Sheriff Bill Overton said events like this play a big role in their strategy.

“We need the community, we need their support in what we do and certainly want them to know that we are here for them, and the law enforcement and safety aspect of our community,” Overton said.

Departments in Bedford and Vinton also participated in the annual event held across the country.

Nine different events took place in Roanoke where Mayor Sherman Lea said it’s good to get facetime.

“To familiarize the citizens with our law enforcement, they come out, and to talk to each other, to network, to meet the neighbors. Let’s find out about things going on in our communities,” Lea said.

Roanoke Police Chief Sam Roman and city manager Bob Cowell also hit the streets to play games and break bread with residents. Much of the focus is on preventing small, non-violent crime. But Roanoke Police Lt. Susanna Camp said this can help prevent larger crimes too.

“A lot of our gun crimes come from firearms stolen from vehicles, so we always ask you to lock your vehicles,” Camp said.

Community leaders know that problems won’t be solved overnight. But they said they’re glad these kinds of events are back because every little bit counts.

“I think people know each other, and I like the fact that officers are reaching out and everybody has a friendly face on and that’s good a thing,” Lea said.

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