Newport News Kicks Off National Night Out

First responders and residents kicked off the annual National Night Out event Saturday afternoon.

They all gathered in front of Target on Jefferson Avenue to show support for each other.

“We couldn’t police the city without the help of the citizens,” said Newport News Assistant Chief of Police Mike Grinstead.

Officers, firefighters and families enjoyed music, games and other activities in anticipation for the main event on Tuesday. Saturday’s event was hosted by the Newport News Neighborhood Coalition.

“It shows that the citizens of the city take a stand against crime,” said coalition president Dave Hirlinger.

Hirlinger has been president since December of 2014. He says there are 65 sub groups within the coalition and all of them have the same goal.

“We just want to make our neighborhoods safer and let criminals out there know we take a stand against that type of activity,” Hirlinger said.

Hirlinger says the kick-off party and other social events help bring everyone closer together. This year’s event has a special meaning due to strained ties between some law enforcement agencies and communities throughout the country.

Assistant Chief Grinstead says local officers have seen an increase in support this past year.

“Recently, with the national events occurring, we’ve got so much support throughout the community,” he said.

Support and safety are the two things officers and residents are counting on to make Newport News a better place.

“With them banding together, knowing their neighbors, knowing what’s going on, it strengthens and builds a better community and a safer place overall.

Hirlinger said neighborhood watch groups will host their own August 2.