Next Tuesday marks the 31st annual National Night Out, and Chapel Hill police are inviting residents to join in the effort to fight crime.

Officer Robin Clark is with the Chapel Hill Police Community Services Division. She says last year’s celebration took many forms.

“In the past we have had pool parties, block parties in neighborhoods, ice cream socials and cook outs,” says Clark. “It’s been a pretty fun and exciting time for us.”

This year, more than 16,000 communities across the nation are expected to take part by locking doors, turning on exterior lights, and spending time outside with neighbors and local police between 6 and 8 o’clock in the evening.

The event is intended to help build trust among neighbors and highlight community policing efforts. Clark says the slaying of UNC professor Feng Liu last week has drawn renewed attention to the issue of neighborhood safety.

“I think any time you have a tragic event such as that in the community that it does heighten people’s awareness,” says Clark. “Unfortunately, sometimes it takes tragic events like that to make people realize, ‘Hey, maybe we should be paying a little more attention.’”

If you’d like to organize an event for your neighborhood or apartment complex, contact Officer Robin Clark at 919-969-2068 or