''National Night Out'' helps police, residents communicate

Jefferson City residents got a chance Tuesday to meet some of the police officers whose job it is to keep them safe.

The city's finest say they hope this year's National Night Out leaves them with a better understanding of what the city's needs are in terms of crime prevention and community interaction.

National Night Out sees police drive out to neighborhoods and meet with whole neighborhoods to engage in a constructive dialogue about how crime is affecting the neighborhood, and what the police can do to improve their policing strategies. Police say residents are often intensely curious about the crime statistics police bring with them.

"They want to know what's going on in their neighborhood. They want to know if we are seeing a crime rate rise in their neighborhood, or if anything is happening directly in their neighborhood," said Sergeant Joseph Matherne.

Residents in some neighborhoods say the police are doing a great job. "You know, honestly I can't say enough about the great things they've done." said Virginia Trail resident Jay Bosch. "Any time we've had an event here on the street, they've done a really great job of supporting us, doing drive arounds and different things along those lines."

Some neighborhoods are safer than others, though - That's why Sergeant Matherne says they want to hear from everyone.

"We like to get to know the community to be on a first-name basis with the residents, so that they feel comfortable contacting us when they need us, so that we have a personal relationship with everybody in the community."

Resident Ann Linhardt says there's another reason why it's so good to have meetings like National Night Out. "It's important to get to know your neighbors so that if we need to alert anyone about suspicious activity, we know who to contact."

Jefferson city police say hearing residents concerns about crime is a top priority, every day of the year.