By Cleve Bryan


ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (CBS) — It’s National Night Out. Police department and communities in our area, and around the nation, are coming together in the fight against crime.

Police in Atlantic City say National Night Out could not have come at a better time for the city.

It’s been a summer of fears and tears in Atlantic City with gun violence claiming the lives of three teenagers. The rash of deadly shootings caused police to reintroduce a strict 10 p.m. curfew for kids under 18.

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And just as police are trying to hurdle any resistance to the change, they’re getting a literal bounce with National Night Out.

“We’re going to tell them what’s really going on and why we do the things we do, like why we have to enforce a curfew and at the end of the day, it’s because we care for their safety,” Atlantic City Police Lt. Will Santiago said.

National Night Out is specifically geared at strengthening police and community bonds by creating a fun activity night where officers play with kids and have conversations with them and their parents.

“We want them to know that we’re a part of them, we’re a part of the city and no matter what happens, we’re going to be there for them and we’re going to try to make change one event at a time,” Santiago said.

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But Atlantic City police know one community outreach event isn’t enough.

Just down the street, ACPD showed Eyewitness News the variety of summer activities going on at the Police Athletic League building — from crafts to music and of course, the world-renowned boxing gym.

Police say kids who have positive interactions with cops at a young age are less likely to have negative interactions when they get older.

“It’s important that we get them while they’re younger, that way the streets don’t have that opportunity to sow those negative seeds and we can continue to keep them positive and motivated and on a successful journey of life,” said Sgt. Monica Coursey, director of the Atlantic City Police Athletic League.

National Night Out is just the beginning in Atlantic City. Police have six more community barbecues scheduled throughout the rest of the summer.