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National Night Out

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LAWTON, Okla._

The Lawton Police Department is adopting a national program Tuesday, called National Night Out. It was first created in 1984 to help combat crime.

Tuesday evening Lawton police officers and firefighters will gather at Shepler Park just west of the police station. There they'll be grilling hamburgers and hot dogs free to the community. The main objective is to bring law enforcement and the community together to battle crime as a team.

Just across from the Lawton Police Department is where Lawton Police Chief James Smith hopes to see the Lawton community this coming Tuesday.

"If the community is connected the community will be a safer place," said Lawton police Chief James Smith.

Smith said the event has been recognized since 1984 and was started after citizens grew sick of crime and decided to push back.

"They started turning their porch lights on and saying there is no crime on our street, it starts out on a small scale, it starts out this is not going to happen in my house, on my street, it's not going to happen in my community, causing crime to move somewhere else," said Smith.

By gathering in one spot Smith said he hoped citizens would feel more open to communicate with police officers and feel free to ask questions.

"Sometimes we can explain why we do what we do, it's not like CSI, we cannot solve a crime in 20 minutes, we can't get a DNA sample in 30 minutes, a lot of people are confused or don't know why we do the things we do," said Smith, "and this is their opportunity to come out and talk to us and learn who we are and visa versa. "

 He said it was just as important for citizens to talk with one another.

"One thing that criminals like to do, they like to operate under the cover of darkness, if they know they are going into a neighborhood where people are watching out for their neighbors, they're watching for their cars or each other, they won't go in that neighborhood," said Smith.

He said the team effort was imperative to the city's fight against crime. 

"The police department cannot go out and lock up everyone, locking up people will not fix it, it will take a collective effort between the police department and community, business associations, churches, all working together to help fight crime," said Smith.

The event is free to the public.  It will be held Tuesday, August 6, from 6pm to 9pm at Shepler Park at 4th and West Gore.

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