It's not as though Colonial Acres near Bel Air was ever a hotbed of criminal activity, but it's likely as not the spirit behind the community's annual National Night Out has something to do with that.

Established and encouraged as a way for neighborhood activists to take a stand against criminal activity, National Night Out has caught on in some places, while in other locations it isn't observed. In some instances, neighborhoods where there are troubles partake of the event. Sometimes places like Colonial Acres are the staging grounds.

Either way, it's a perfectly good summertime activity. It usually includes games and activities for kids, plus visits from public safety officers.

In Colonial Acres, they went so far as to have a cookout.

As one participant, Matt Casey, put it: "It's kind of fun and [we come] just for a sense of community."

A sense of community, is really what it's all about when it comes to preventing crime, be it in a neighborhood where a problem has yet to develop, or in a place where there are things that need be dealt with.

It really doesn't matter whether National Night Out is observed. The sense of community is what counts.