How Does 'National Night Out' Help Cut Crime?

It takes months of planning to put on a successful National Night Out party. It pays off, according to police and members of Community Crime watches. Police say the parties are essential to cutting down on crime.

"We began 3 years ago with 5 women in my living room. And we've grown to over 50 families," says Linda King. King is the Community Crime watch captain for Brent road in Longview.

Together with neighbors, she spent all day preparing for tonight's party. "It really encourages all of the neighborhood to get to know one another and to really begin to think as a group and to watch after one another," says King.

There are no concrete numbers on whether National Night Out parties actually cut crime, but police say the more neighbors know about each other, the more they'll look out for one another and report potential crimes. "As police officers we get our information from the public. As the public becomes more involved with their neighbors, looking out for their neighbors and feeling more comfortable with police, the more things get called in. That's the greatest benefit that we have," says officer Bob Cowart.

"Oh there's no doubt that's happening because we do watch after one another. We make a point of noticing if there's anything unusual in our neighborhood and we contact one another if we need to," says King.

Linda says another benefit is the neighborhood gets to know police officers, giving them the freedom to ask for advice on how to handle problems. Just one more reason, she says, National Night Out is worth all the work.

Amy Tatum, reporting.