WASHINGTON – Millions of people across the U.S. gathered for National Night Out events Tuesday to build camaraderie between communities and local law enforcement.
The annual observance is intended to encourage relationships with those sworn to serve and protect.
Vera Bumpers, president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement, says this year, conversations are much needed about threats to the safety of residents and law enforcement, including the nation’s gun epidemic and new 3D-printed gun technology that will allow nearly anyone to create a deadly weapon.
“Beyond just the 3D printer, there are many concerns in the community trying to deal with the strain between law enforcement and the youth, the shootings,” Bumpers states. “So, this is just an opportunity for us to talk, to impart some knowledge about what law enforcement does and to hear their concerns.”
3D-printed guns can be constructed from plastic and are capable of firing standard handgun ammunition. And Bumpers contends they’re a serious public safety threat, as they’d be untraceable and invisible to metal detectors.
There have been 150 mass shootings in the U.S. so far this year.
Bumpers says local law enforcement is interested in the concerns of the communities they serve, but points out that many people never interact with police until there’s a threat to their safety.
She notes regular communication can foster relationships, and she encourages people to become informed about how they can help create a safer community.
“Do homework,” she urges. “Before taking a position on anything, make sure you do your research.
“And discuss – talk and reach out to law enforcement professionals, and make sure there is dialogue.”
More than 38 million people from all 50 states participated in last year’s National Night Out with vigils, block parties, parades and other events. Due to summer heat, Texas hosts its events in October.