Central Virginians, law enforcement hope National Night Out will improve community safety, discourage crime

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The highly anticipated National Night Out events happened all across the Richmond area on Tuesday, Aug. 2. The counties of Chesterfield, Hanover, Henrico, Goochland and many other localities held their own events, and gatherings were accessible to nearly every member of the community.

Law enforcement came out to celebrate as well. Chesterfield County Police Chief Jeffrey Katz spoke with 8News at one of his first stops of the day — Stonebridge Recreation Center. The event welcomed police officers, members of the sheriff’s department and community members. Guests ate hotdogs and snow cones and chatted with each other.

Jacqueline Brooks, who lives in Richmond, told 8News she recently retired and National Night Out felt like the perfect opportunity to become more involved in her community. She attended her event not just as a way to meet more people and dive deeper into her community’s social scene, but as a way to learn more about what’s being done to help improve the conditions in Richmond area as well.

The National Night Out event at the Stonebridge Recreation Center on Tuesday. Credit: Sierra Krug / 8News

As of Sunday, there have been a total of 653 violent crimes in the city of Richmond — that’s 28 more than last year around this time. While this doesn’t directly correlate with Chesterfield County, people like Brooks worry about the net increase in crime throughout the greater Richmond area.

Brooks spoke to 8News about the crimes she hears about every night and how she hopes events like this will unify the community and help residents gain respect for one another.

“Every day you look at the news and stuff, there’s always crime going on, you know,” Brooks said. “We’ve got to get out of that. We’ve got to respect each other, we don’t like them, we still got to respect them, and you know, we all have to live here, so we got to make it a better place for people to live.”

Chief Katz said he looks forward to this event every year as a chance to represent law enforcement.

“This is personal for us,” Katz said, adding, “We not only work for Chesterfield County, but many of us live in Chesterfield County.”

He highlighted how members of the local law enforcement have kids who go to county schools and drive on the county’s roads, indicating that police officers also have a personal stake in the community’s safety and well-being.

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