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A good night out [Editorial]

People like Kelly Burgos and Haylie, her 11-year-old daughter, get it.

The Belcamp residents not only attended last week’s National Night Out activity at the Target store in Aberdeen, but they also get to as many of the once-a-year events as they can.

“It’s informative,” Kelly Burgos said about the value of the National Night Out. “It makes you think of things you don’t normally think about asking.”

What began 35 years ago continues as a combination crime prevention, public/personal safety and relationship building between law enforcement and the communities they serve.

“… preventing and solving crime is a community effort. National Night Out is an excellent program that helps the department build relationships with neighbors and create safer neighborhoods,” Chief George Turner, of the Atlanta Police Department, is quoted as saying on the group’s web site.

All of the law enforcement agencies serving Harford County, as well as fire and EMS responders, participated last week in an effort to better connect with those they serve.

“We get to go out and show the community what the police are out here to do, to protect them and be part of the community,” Bel Air Police Chief Charles Moore said. “We represent them; they’re part of us.”

In today’s polarized society, that’s a great sentiment that isn’t always clear to those suspicious of police. Nor is it always clear to those doing the serving. In our culture, where the capability for just about everyone to do video recording on a split second’s notice, there are far too many examples of police acting badly as well as the public treating the police badly.

National Night Out in Harford County is a small, but important, step to bridging the gap between how the police and the public sometimes interact and how they should treat each other.

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