MIDLAND - Neighborhood block parties have become a staple for National Night Out.
The annual event is in an effort to bring people together to help prevent crime in their area. But this year is a little different. Midland Officials told NewsWest 9 they had been getting requests specifically from new residents requesting ways they could get to know their neighbors and the community at large.
According to Guy McKenzie for example, "Probably about half our block now, we don't know them." The Midland resident had been wanting to organize an event in his area, so he was the go-to-guy for the part on Spartan Drive off of Neely. He handed out flyers across the neighborhood, grilled burgers, and set up chairs along his front yard for a screen on the green family event.
"I just want to get to know who they are just so we can kind of keep an eye out on each other's houses and so they know who's here during the day and belongs here," he said.
Ada Narem who co-hosted the party on Keswick party feels the event was successful.
"I think it brings us back to a lost era when you knew your neighbors," Narem said, adding that safety in the community comes from knowing and being able to comfortably rely on them.
24-year-old Curtis Urban attended that party, initially not knowing it was a national event. But he said first responders coming out really personalized the event. More than that, he is new to the community and basically represents the target audience for these get-togethers.
"I had no idea who any of my neighbors were before tonight, and now I met at least everyone on my street," he said.
Although McKenzie said he doesn't want to blame the new people for things like crime and pollution, he does feel "they probably don't care a whole lot about Midland, so I think it's important that since we have a lot of people new coming into our community that we try to get to know them and try to make them feel a part of our community so they'll take care of it."
But there was another mission too. City workers were stopping by the parties to let the citizens know about Nextdoor.com- a site linking law enforcement agents with the community.
"We can send messages to all the neighborhoods. Might be a crime prevention message, might be some crime happening in their neighborhood, we could reach out to them and make them aware and work together," Sgt Ben Chavez with Midland Police said.
Anyone can register on nextdoor.com as long as you provide your address. And it can be used as a community bulletin board as well. On top of that, officials will be reaching out to homes with surveillance video.
"We're trying to get them connected with us in case they pick up some kind of crime. We can help them to solve the crime, and to keep the crime under control in the neighborhoods.