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National Night Out Takes On Special Significance Following Recent Police-Community Tensions

ASPINWALL (KDKA) -- In light of recent shooting deaths of black men by white police officers, as well as the recent shootings of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, National Night Out took on an added importance in some communities nationwide.

National Night Out has always been about turning on porch lights and taking a stand against crime.

But in Aspinwall, it's also about police getting to know the community better and about the community showing their appreciation of the police.

"They're really here to keep our children safe," said Lisa Perry, an African-American mother who moved to Aspinwall eight years ago.

She was at the National Night Out event with her 14-year-old son, Xavier.

Perry says she does not sense any feeling of animosity between the community and police in her neighborhood.

"They partner with us on a lot of community events so that we get to know the police. One of the things my son will be doing today is getting introduced to the police officers so that they kind of know who he is," said Perry.

The Aspinwall Neighborhood Watch organized the National Night Out in Aspinwall.

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And thanks to a sponsor, they passed out blue light bulbs for free this year, so people can put them on their front porch to show support of the police.

Organizers say this event is always about appreciating police, but this year, with an added importance because of officers being killed in Dallas and Baton Rouge.

One of the organizers, Lorraine Marks, explained why, "When you're friends with the local police department, and you see the pain they go through with the loss of an officer that's part of their team… doesn't matter if they're in the city or not."

Aspinwall Police Chief Dave Caplan says his officers appreciate the community's support, and admits given what's happened elsewhere, each day has been a little different lately.

"We're all taking extra caution answering various calls," said Chief Caplan. "And we're cognizant of the dangers that we face, but we recognize we have a sworn duty to respond to these calls."

National Night Out started 33 years ago.

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