Coast Police Departments Paricipate In Annual Night Out

Tuesday night police departments throughout the country joined forces with local communities in the "19th Annual National Night Out."

Goals of this event include, meeting with local police to build neighborhood unity and strengthen police community partnerships, heighten crime and drug prevention, and to send a message to criminals that neighborhoods are organized to fight back.

In all, 33 million people are expected to participate in 9700 communities from all fifty states, U.S. territories and military bases.

Biloxi police explorer Jonathan Correia made his rounds at the community center Tuesday night talking to people and helping bridge the gap between citizens and police.

"When you're a police officer, you need as much help as you can get. Because you're a police officer doesn't mean that people are going to listen to you. And you need the community to help you, and we need to get the community involved with what's going on in their community," Correia said.

Along with the free food, games were set up to entertain the children and different exhibits displayed how dangerous drugs and crime can be.

All units of the police were on hand, to meet with citizens and answer questions.

"That's what they call a hard nose penetrator, that will go through a cinder block wall, three quarter inch ply wood, so we got somebody inside a house and we want them to come out, there not coming out, we shoot this in there, and it puts gas into the house, makes it real uncomfortable for them to be in there, so they eventually want to come in and give up," said Biloxi police officer J. Doucet explaining some special equipment.

At Prime Outlets in Gulfport, Gulfport police sponsored their community watch block party. Local utilities, social service, fire, ambulance and police units provided information about personal safety. Locals got to team up with officers and do things like getting your fingerprints taken.

"This is an opportunity, especially here in Gulfport tonight, play basketball, take a train ride with a police officer, sit down one-on-one with the chief of police and just have a conversation about what's going on in our community," Gulfport police officer Alfred Sexton said.

The event is nationally sponsored by the Association of Town Watch, and supported by the U.S. department of justice.

"More and more people are coming to the event every year," Biloxi police officer Jackie Rhodes said.