Public Safety Leaders, Police Officers Join Residents for National Night Out

National Night Out 2021 at the White Oak Gardens Apartments.

Law enforcement leaders joined residents at numerous neighborhood block parties in Montgomery County for National Night Out on Tuesday. The event allows police to connect with residents and leaders to encourage community relationships with law enforcement. Residents could learn about crime prevention and how to avoid being victims of scams. Fire marshals educated residents about smoke detector safety. And there were activities for children, like face-painting.

National Night Out was canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“A lot of this is getting to meet people,” County State’s Attorney John McCarthy said at the White Oak Gardens Apartments. “It’s just about talking to people, meeting people. Listening to what their concerns are.”

“We’re out here to engage with the community, educate them about things that can make them safe, their family safe, and have fun.”

Police Chief Marcus Jones said it is important for police and residents to engage face-to-face.

“To me, this is the human side of who we are,” Jones said. “This is when it’s important for the community to understand that police officers are human. And we also as police officers get out of our shell, you might say, and understand what community engagement [is], and really talking to people and hearing from them about what their issues are, and how we can make it better for everybody.”

“Because we all want the same thing, it’s about, how do we get there in order to accomplish that?”, Jones said.

County Executive Marc Elrich said it was exciting to see residents come out for the events. He affirmed there is likely nothing more valuable than people talking to each other.

“And we’ve got to do our part to make sure that policing looks more like what people have expected,” Elrich said. “I’ve been saying for a long time that the systems we had were kind of old ways of doing things. And things that happened in the past just can’t happen anymore. And there’s got to be a willingness to change.”

Elrich acknowledged the county put effort into bringing in a consulting group and also formed a community group to provide recommendations to improve policing.

The non-profit consultant Effective Law Enforcement For All, Inc. (ELE4A) continues to conduct an audit of the police department. Recommendations from a preliminary audit were released in June. In February, the Reimagining Public Safety Task Force released recommendations for public safety and the police department.

“We intend to implement this because it is past time for a change and now that people are accepting that has to happen, I think it’s going to be a lot easier to make the changes we have to make,” Elrich said. Both the audit and task force are part of the Reimagining Public Safety initiative Elrich launched in 2020. It aims to improve public safety in the county with an emphasis on equity.

Silver Spring resident Zoila Arita said she was glad to have family fun with her community after getting used to staying home due to the pandemic.

“This is a good moment to [reconnect] the whole family and good community with the police.”

Leaders tweeted photos from Tuesday night.

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Maryam Shahzad

About Maryam Shahzad

Maryam is a reporter with Montgomery Community Media. She graduated from the University of Maryland in 2019 with a bachelor's degree in broadcast journalism. Previously, she was an intern with MCM. She can be reached at or on Twitter @maryam_mcm.


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