The abundance of caution that has marked 2020 will extend into October for the McKinney Police Department.
The department on Aug. 19 announced that its annual National Night Out, scheduled for Oct. 6, had been canceled.
The event usually features neighborhood block parties, goody bags for residents and the opportunity for officers and community members to talk in person and answer questions, but this year, the term “in person” has a different ring to it. Instead, the department has encouraged residents to turn on their porch lights and, if they so choose, to decorate their homes with signs, blue ribbons and positive messages.
The cancellation comes one year after McKinney placed 11th in the nation for National Night Out participation among areas with a population of 100,000 to 300,000, according to the National Night Out webpage.
McKinney also had a record number of neighborhood block parties in the previous year, said Carla Marion, McKinney PD public information officer.
Through the pandemic, the department has maintained its connections with the public through social media pages and with community police officers and Mounted Units as they go through neighborhoods during the day, Marion said. The department has also participated in online crime watch meetings.
“One of the most surprising and uplifting things we have seen are the countless acts of kindness towards our officers, and so many extremely generous donations of food, snacks, drinks, sweets, and the list goes on, that McKinney families have literally brought to our front door at the PD,” Marion said.
While the pandemic has made connecting with the public somewhat different, it has not made connecting difficult, she said.
“We serve a very supportive community here in McKinney, and it has been wonderful to see residents come out in support of our officers and our department despite the challenges,” she said.
National Night Out, a nation-wide campaign, promotes police-community partnerships, according to the national event website.
“For us, it is an opportunity to connect with residents, shake their hands, listen to them, laugh when them, basically be there to answer any question or concern they may have about what is going on in their neighborhood,” Marion said.