Fort Worth residents in nearly every neighborhood turned on their porch lights on Tuesday for the 33rd year of National Night Out.
Neighbors gathered at more than 190 block parties to meet with Fort Worth police officers, firefighters and city officials.
For the residents of the Westcliff neighborhood, NNO was an opportunity to visit with neighbors outside their houses and connect with police officers on a deeper level.
Susan Thornburgh, who has lived in the Westcliff neighborhood for more than 22 years, said this opportunity is crucial.
“We don’t always get a chance to get out and visit people,” Thornburgh said.
Thornburgh was one of 50 neighbors who amassed in the parking lot of the Westcliff shopping center from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday.
Spanning about five parking spaces long and two rows wide, the party was bustling with activity.
A car parked with its trunk gaping open provided the perfect seat for Sal Ann Sauer, a neighbor who had collected donations from local businesses for raffle prizes.
Every 15 minutes, her voice rang clear over her microphone announcing the winner of another raffle drawing.
Meanwhile, residents strolled past tables laden with information pamphlets, goodie bags and stationery marked by the cardinal bird mascot of the neighborhood.
A boy pulled on his mother’s arm as he motioned toward the fire truck sent from Fort Worth Fire Station 21. Excitement was in the air.
Caught up in the middle of the activities was neighborhood police officer Charles Gonzalez, who was handing out police sticker badges and educating residents on crime prevention.
Gonzalez is in his 16th year of working as a neighborhood police officer. To his credit, he attends all the neighborhood meetings in the area he patrols.
He said he strives to make connections with the community, and it seems to be paying off.
“The people here love the police,” Gonzalez said. “They’re incredible.”
Gonzalez attributes this camaraderie to FWPD’s neighborhood police program, which assigns one officer to a specific area of Fort Worth.
“You have one officer you address issues with,” Gonzalez said. “I address the issue. I make the follow-up connections.”
Those connections made an impact on Thornburgh.
“The police here are top notch,” Thornburgh said. “We know them. They’re a part of our community.”
NNO is a police-community partnership event that focuses on generating support for local law enforcement and strengthening neighborhood spirit. Learn more in the previous article.