The Grove City Police Division is asking residents to get together with their neighbors next week.

The Grove City Police Division is asking residents to get together with their neighbors next week.

On Tuesday, Aug. 7, Grove City will participate in the 27th Annual National Night Out, a crime prevention event sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch.

The event is designed to raise awareness of drug and crime prevention programs, generate support for local anti-crime efforts and strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community ties.

Communities typically mark National Night Out with block parties, cookouts, visits from local law enforcement agencies, youth programs and other community-wide and neighborhood events. But the main aspect of the event remains having residents turn on their front porch lights and hold vigils.

"We've been participating the last several years," said Capt. Jeff Pearson of the Grove City Police Division. "All the neighborhoods are encouraged to have their own cookouts and get-togethers."

Pearson said the event is designed for residents to get to know their neighbors and take ownership of their neighborhoods. Safe neighborhoods, he said, require residents who are alert, informed and prepared; they know everyone who is supposed to be there, what vehicles belong and recognize suspicious behavior.

"Simple stuff like that," Pearson said.

Pearson said the police division tries to make it to a different block party every year. This year, the division will be at the Farmbrook Village subdivision. Officers will discuss crime prevention, and booths will be set up by various groups.

Past years have included guests from Franklin County and the Columbus Zoo.

"Last year, (the county) brought their bomb squad vehicle," Pearson said.

While the police division won't be able to set up shop at every block party in the city, Pearson said he hopes to have officers stopping by gatherings across town, to talk with residents and answer questions.

"Hopefully, each of the neighborhoods will get to do something," Pearson said.

National Night Out first took place in 1984 and involved 2.5 million people in 23 states, and since then, participation in the event has grown.

In 2011, law enforcement agencies, civic groups, businesses and other groups from more than 15,000 communities reportedly participated in the event, involving an estimated 37 million people.

"We want people to enjoy themselves and have an understanding that the partnership between the community and the Grove City Division of Police is essential to creating a community where crime cannot flourish," said Chief Steve Robinette in a news release from the division.