Editorial: Night Out events highlight benefits of community policing

Community policing — a law enforcement strategy that focuses on building relationships and working closely with members of the community or neighborhood, versus police who only show up when called upon — has proven to be an effective tool over the years in not only reducing crime, but also improving a community’s overall sense of safety.

National Night Out is one of the centerpieces of the community policing mindset. On Tuesday night, Aug. 7, communities across the United States, including many here in Carroll County, enjoyed a festival-like atmosphere at local National Night Out events.


Mount Airy police Chief Doug Reitz told us that one of the main goals of National Night Out, which celebrated its 35th anniversary this year, is for residents to see “the human side of the badge.”

Unfortunately, most people’s interaction with law enforcement isn’t necessarily positive. It might be because they are getting pulled over by an officer for speeding. Or after their vehicle or house has been broken into.

Which is why events like National Night Out are so important. It gives residents an opportunity to interact with police in a more positive setting, but also a chance to talk about and express any criminal concerns in their communities.

And law enforcement agencies across Carroll have embraced National Night Out and other community policing events, like Shop With a Cop, in which police officers help underprivileged youth buy school supplies and Christmas presents.

Carroll County is one of the safest places to live in Maryland. The county’s crime rate of 1,353.6 crimes per 100,000 people, according to the latest data available from the 2016 Maryland State Police Uniform Crime Report, is the lowest of any jurisdiction in the state., a home security company, ranked Westminster and Taneytown as the 14th and second safest cities in Maryland, respectively. Taneytown even ranked in the top 10 percentile of the safest 500 cities in the United States, according to SafeHome’s methodology.

Myriad factors play into these rankings, but community policing certainly has a significant role.

That’s not to say things are always perfect and crime-free.

The City of Westminster, recently, has had a spate of criminal activity — two incidents involving gunshots being fired that are believed to be related to drug activity and, separately, a rash of cars and a home broken into. These incidents have rattled some residents in an otherwise safe community.

As a result, police Chief Jeff Spaulding has called a community meeting at the community center of the Westminster municipal pool on Thursday, Aug. 9, at 6 p.m. to discuss these recent events, what police are doing as a result and how residents can also help. After all, community policing is a two-way street where citizens also play a role as additional eyes and ears for law enforcement. We encourage Westminster residents to attend.

And if you live in the Eldersburg-Sykesville area, you still have a chance to celebrate National Night Out and get to better know law enforcement there. Because of soggy conditions, Tuesday’s NNO event was postponed until this upcoming Tuesday, Aug. 14. The Sykesville Police Department and Carroll County Sheriff’s Office will have members in attendance at the event, to be held at the Sykesville-Freedom District Fire Department carnival grounds, 6680 Sykesville Road, Eldersburg.