HISD PD reaches out to community during National Night Out

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The Houston Independent School District Police Department celebrated its annual National Night Out event on Tuesday with food, music and fun activities. About 150 community members, law enforcement officials, volunteers and businesses gathered at the department’s headquarters to host the event, which aims to strengthen police and community relationships.

“National Night Out gives us an opportunity to meet with the community and bridge the disconnection between the community and police,” HISD PD Assistant Chief Michael Benford said. “We want to let everyone know that we are approachable and we’re not just here when you’re in trouble.”

In conjunction with the nonprofit organization National Association of Town Watch (NATW), National Night Out increases crime and drug awareness to generate support for local anti-crime programs, and helps send a message to criminals that neighborhoods are organized and will fight back for their community.

More than 20 businesses and groups were on hand at the fun event to hand out free food, giveaways, and safety and health information, including HISD PD K-9, Dropout Recovery and Transportation departments.HISD PD Lieutenant Guadalupe Jimenez says the department has hosted the event for the last ten years, which has continued to grow thanks to donations and support from local businesses.

“This is one day out of the year where we take the time out to meet the community so they can see us in a different light,” Jimenez said. “We are here as a community and together, that’s how we can fight crime.”

Parent Tamika Butler attended National Night Out for the first time with her children and says she likes the meaning behind the event.

“I’ve been encouraging my children to get involved and speak up,” Butler said. “I’ve been doing it since day one.”

High School for Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice student Marco Guadiana volunteered with his peers during National Night Out and says it is important for HISD students to work alongside officers in school.

“To work with law enforcement is a very big thing at our school,” Guadiana said. “We plan on doing a lot around [the department] to help out as much as we can within the community.”

Benford says HISD PD is always seeking to build stronger partnerships with students and parents who may be a bit weary of speaking up against crime.

“It starts with dialogue,” Benford said. “I encourage parents and students to walk up to the officers at their school to say hello, ask questions, and get to know them and what their job is. I believe it helps break down some of those barriers.”