National Night Out: Houston-area communities and law enforcement gather to strengthen relationships

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- After being postponed due to COVID-19 last year, National Night Out has returned. Communities gathered all over the Houston area in an effort to strengthen neighborhood spirit and law enforcement-community relationships.

"I think it's super important to build that relationship and establish that trust. We've always kind of had some things to work out and some commonalities to seek out. So I think this is really vital," said Sarah Castillo, a northside resident.

The annual event allowed some residents to voice concerns about the crime increase Houston is experiencing.

"Even with the school incident the other day, it's very concerning and very scary," said Abrina Davis, a Third Ward resident.

Law enforcement leaders said events like National Night Out are a time to remind the community we can all play a part in a safer city.

"At the end of the day, the important message when we are concerned with a crime is to reinforce the notion that we're all in this together. We need the community to still call in with information that helps us solve crimes. We need them to report crimes," said Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez.

So far in 2021, there have been at least 360 homicides in Houston. That's up 28% from this same time last year.

"We've got to hang in there together. We've got to fight together. There are much more good people and good police officers than knuckleheads. We have to focus on them but at the same time, let's look out for one another," said Houston Police Chief Troy Finner.

Finner used National Night Out to encourage people to come together and look out for one another.

"That's who we really are as Houstonians. I want people to know that and realize that. Yeah, we are in some tough times, but we are going to come out on top," said Finner.

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