HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Police officers got the chance to get to know families from several different neighborhoods around the city.
The community and law enforcement came together for National Night Out, an event created to build the relationship between the two groups.
So often, when families see so many law enforcement officers in one place, it's a crime scene.
But Tuesday night, children and parents saw a different side of officers, a side both believe will help bridge that gap.
"Opportunities like this where you're visible, but visible to celebrate, visible to lend a helping hand, we need more of that," Crystal Walter Jn Baptiste, a parent who attended one of the National Night Out events, said.
She believes events like this lead the relationship between police and the community in a better direction.
"The more we see it, the more that becomes a new normal, and hopefully, we'll get there," she said.
Mayor Sylvester Turner said there's room for improvement.
With so many children attending the event, he said it's important to reach out to them while they're young.
"Young folk will be young folk," Turner said. "But, we have to help them make better decisions (and to) exercise better judgment so that a bad decision doesn't become a fatal decision."
Turner said there are nearly 20,000 gang members in Houston, and more has to be done to stop teenagers from joining.
"We have to love them more than gang members are trying to love them. We have to embrace them. We have to meet them where they are. We have to talk in a language that they understand. We have to tell them about our story," Turner said.
Baptiste's son, Waltere Ellison, said he plans to stay out of trouble because he's hard to influence.
"I don't follow what other people do. I go by my own rules, and I don't listen to other people," Ellison said.
Baptiste, who is related to a law enforcement officer, hopes events like this will have a lasting impact on her children.