Just as any event that was scheduled in the months since COVID-19 hit home, the Victoria Police Department’s National Night Out looked different Oct. 6 than it had in previous years.

The community-building event usually occurs in August. Neighborhoods register to host block parties across Victoria, where law enforcement officials socialize and work to develop relationships with the residents they serve.

This year, the National Night Out campaign recommended departments postpone their event from August to October due to COVID-19.

The Victoria Police Department not only postponed to October, but also rebranded the event into a “National Night In” to promote safety in the community.

Instead of block parties, law enforcement agencies held a parade through neighborhoods that signed up for the route. Residents gathered on their lawns and curbsides to greet them.

We commend the Victoria Police Department for finding a responsible, creative way to continue to build relationships with community members during a time when those bonds are needed most.

Just a few months ago, Victoria residents were among those in more than 2,000 cities and towns that organized and held Black Lives Matter protests after the death of Gorge Floyd, according to an interactive story from the New York Times.

Hundreds marched 15 blocks down Navarro Street in June to honor the memory of 15 people who were killed by Texas police officers in 2020.

Victoria police officers were stationed nearby and along the route, but did not intervene with the protest, which former Victoria Police Chief J.J. Craig told the Advocate he found both “peaceful” and “successful.”

That protest and the national discourse on policing that has ensued since Floyd’s death remains on the minds of both community members and law enforcement. It serves as a clear reminder that there is more work to be done.

Senior Police Officer John Turner recently told the Advocate that the department is making a concerted effort to connect with the community given the criticism police across America have faced this year.

“The problem with our career is it’s a negative-contact business,” He said. “(When) you see more positive interaction, it’s good for both of us — for the civilians and the police officers.”

We encourage the department to continue making a concerted effort to build relationships with the community, and we urge residents to do the same.

These positive interactions are what ultimately makes our community better, safer and stronger.

This opinion reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate’s editorial board.

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