NASHUA -- Ed Lecius, Nashua's community policing coordinator, believes the best way residents can protect their neighborhoods is to get out and talk to one another.
"The biggest thing is introducing people to their neighbors," said Lecius. "It builds a sense of community and brings people together."
And that's the goal of National Night Out, an annual crime prevention celebration that brings police and other first responders together with community groups and residents for a night of fun, with sponsors including the Boys and Girls Club, Kohl's and Target. Everyone has a chance to get to know one another and understand that they are all on the same page when it comes to keeping Nashua safe.
"We're just getting people informed and aware," said Rocio Camacho, the individual services director of the Boys and Girls Club. "Everything starts with residents. People need to be active members of the community."
National Night Out, which was started in 1984 by the National Association of Town Watch, is meant to give people a chance to meet and form relationships with police and other safety officials. Lecius said it's just one of the things that's working in Nashua."We've had over 30 active neighborhood watch groups started," he said, adding that the majority were proactive efforts and not responses to a particular crime.
"And I'm proud to say we've resolved 99 percent of the issues," he said.
Many of the families who turned out for the event, which felt like a summer block party, seemed to agree.
"I think Nashua is very safe," said Mary McClean, who was at the event with her grandchildren.
Other residents appreciated the chance to chat with police and firefighters about the city and their concerns.
"We just want to encourage everyone to get to know their neighbors," said Lecius. "That's the best things we can all do."