LAURINBURG — Attendees to this year’s National Night Out event said they were there because crime is a problem.
But they also said showing their support for crime fighting efforts is part of the solution.
More than 300 people crowded downtown Laurinburg Tuesday night to join 16,124 other communities around the world for the anti-crime effort.
“It’s a campaign against crime to send a signal that we are going to unite against crime in this community,” Laurinburg Police Chief Darwin Williams said. “Fighting crime is a constant effort and it takes all of us coming together at the table to make this a success,” he said.
National Night Out began in 1981 as a way to heighten crime and drug prevention awareness as well as generate support for local crime fighting programs.
Nationally, more than 33 million people were expected to participate in Tuesday’s ‘America’s Night Out Against Crime.’ The event in Scotland County featured the Laurinburg Police Department along with the Scotland County Sheriff’s Office, the Laurinburg Fire Department, the Scotland County Probation and Parole, N.C. Wildlife, county EMS and N.C. Highway Patrol.
Scotland County Sheriff Ralph Kersey said another goal of the program is to improve relations between the community and law enforcement. He said residents can serve as “the eyes and ears” of lawmen.
“They play a big part in helping us when there is crime activity,” he said.
He added that can be important resource for a county like Scotland that ranks near the top in the state for violent crime.
“We do have a crime problem,” Kersey said. “Crime is a problem everywhere in North Carolina, but especially in Scotland County.”
While the event sent a message to criminals, it also helped foster a community spirit, according to Donald Locklear, a Laurinburg firefighter.
“It brings the community together and lets them know that the Fire Department, the Police department … we all work together,” Locklear said. “It brings everyone out to meet everyone.”
County resident Lori Taylor agreed.
“I think it will make the citizens more comfortable talking to the police if there’s a serious crime,” said Taylor.
For others, the event that also included face painting, bounce houses, a dunking booth, was a chance to have a good time.
“Here you got things you can do … you got food you can eat and this is a nice clean place,” said Anthony Bullard. “It bring people together.”
Abby Hackmann can be reached at 910-506-3171.