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Does National Night Out Do its Job?

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National Night Out is a growing event throughout the Brazos Valley, and when it began more than 20 years ago it was touted as a way for neighborhoods to get involved in crime prevention.

However, a look at crime statistics from some cities with established National Night Out programs, like Bryan and Navasota, it seems crime has actually increased.

But police say that increase is a sign that the program is actually working.

"We end up with more calls, but that is a good thing because they are alerting us to possible criminal activity that might be going on," says Chief Joe Hester of the Navasota Police Department.

Tuesday night, the city of Bryan had more than 20 National Night Out gatherings, and while the national program is designed to prevent and reduce crime, Walt Melnyk with Bryan Police says that's not the goal of the local program.

"That's not even a goal that we are after, a reduction in crime due to National Night Out, but we are going to see a drop once we build that community partnership, once we get those people to call in," says Walt Melnyk, Public Information Officer for Bryan Police Department.

Bryan resident John Brandenburg hosted a National Night Out gathering for his neighborhood. He says community building is an effective crime prevention tool, even if the numbers say otherwise.

"The night out is to get people together that are in the neighborhood then you recognize strangers because they don't fit the pattern," says John Brandenburg, a Bryan resident.

So while National Night Out may not prevent or reduce crime, organizers say it does keep residents on the lookout.