Thousands of UT students and Austin residents participated in National Night Out, a nationwide event fostering community involvement in crime prevention,
National Night Out was introduced in 1984 by the National Association of Town Watch, a non-profit organization that promotes and develops a variety of crime prevention programs in conjunction with neighborhood watch groups, state and regional crime prevention associations, businesses and law enforcement agencies. The event is designed to promote involvement in crime prevention activities, police-community relationships and neighborhood camaraderie. UT has participated since the program’s beginning.
Currently, the program involves over 37 million people and 15,000 communities from all 50 states, U.S. Territories, Canadian cities and military bases worldwide.
“It’s a chance for communities to come together, meet law enforcement and take a stand against crime,” UTPD officer Layne Brewster said.
The Jester, Duren and Creekside dorms hosted National Night Out parties attended by UTPD officers. From noon to 4 p.m., officers greeted students in
Students were encouraged to learn about the dangers of drinking while driving by wearing Fatal Vision Goggles, a tool used to simulate the effects of alcohol on a person’s vision. While wearing the goggles, students practiced throwing beanbags at targets to demonstrate how hand-eye coordination is impaired.
“In a controlled environment like this, you can put the goggles on and just see what it’d be like,” officer Irene Benavides said. “It’s about as close as we can get without actually putting students behind the wheel.”
UTPD chief David Carter, who began his term on July 1, said he was excited to be establishing a positive rapport with students. Awareness and strong communication are qualities of a safe community, according to Carter.
“Safety is about community, and I think that’s really important,” Carter said.
Individual National Night Out parties take place in neighborhoods across the country every year on the first Tuesday of August. In Texas, the date was moved to October because of the heat.
“National Night Out is for community awareness, but also so that residents can see law enforcement officers outside of negative situations,” said Robbie Barrera, a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper. “They can see that we are real people and we are part of the community.”
Mechanical engineering freshman Skylar Wong said she felt more connected to UTPD officers after
“I feel like now they are more interactive,” Wong said. “Now that they’re here, they’re approachable.”
Mallory Foutch, a senior English and history double major, said she felt UTPD’s presence on campus had a positive effect on students.
“I’m an RA, so we already do a lot of presentations and work with the fire marshal on campus and police officers,” Foutch said. “But it’s good to see more UTPD presence on the campus through things like National Night Out. I think it’s a good effort.”