What is National Night Out?
National Night Out started as a porch light vigil, representing each participating community’s awareness of crime and their commitment to preventing it. Porch lights were left on as a warning to criminals that crime was not welcome in the community. While the traditional porch light vigil is still common today, many communities celebrate by hosting picnics, cookouts and block parties. Public safety personnel and local government officials visit neighborhood events to interact with residents.
Holding a NNO neighborhood event is a great way to meet new neighbors, celebrate the success of your community watch or block club and strengthen your relationships with city public safety departments. In Pittsburgh, celebrations range from porch parties to ice cream socials, to cookouts, to community festivals and include visits from public safety personnel, elected officials and their staff.
Not sure what to do? Here are a few ideas.
Your event can be as simple or as complex as you’d like. Whatever you do will depend on the amount of time, effort, energy and resources you have available. You can access the City of Pittsburgh’s National Night Out Planning Guide or review event examples and suggestions below:
1. In one Pittsburgh neighborhood, each resident was asked to turn on their porch light, sit out, and provide refreshments as they enjoy the evening with their neighbors to send a message that their community will not tolerate crime.
2. One block watch hosted a DJ and invited the local magistrate to grill hotdogs. The local firehouse brought its truck and educated kids about fire safety. The SWAT van was there for residents to tour and block watch members handed out safety information and gun locks.
3. Another Pittsburgh neighborhood hosted a neighborhood meet-and-greet with sandwiches and beverages. Community members participated in a neighborhood walk, followed by a park clean-up effort and a movie in the park.
4. One community group provided refreshments and handouts for their attendees. In addition, they hosted a kickball game while the playground and neighborhood pool were open for children.
5. Another neighborhood group hosted a gun safety, fire safety and fire equipment demonstration. Residents were able to get fingerprinted and Otto the Auto, AAA’s remote-controlled talking car, taught kids about traffic safety. The community hosted a DJ, a mime, a caricature artist, a face painter, mascots, a balloon artist, games, prizes, and free refreshments.
Citiparks activities may be scheduled in your neighborhood on Tuesday, August 4 that might make a good start for your event. Check the Citiparks Summer2015 Magazine, visit or call 412-255-2539 for more information.
Carnegie Library branches may also have a celebration scheduled. To contact a branch near you, call 412-622-3114 or visit:
Churches or other community groups often hold events in early August. Partner with them and add a public safety component.
Police Zone Commanders and Community Relations Officers (CRO) can be helpful in arranging police equipment to visit your event. Call your police zone and ask for assistance visit:
Zone 1 Commander Rashall Brackney, CRO Forrest Hodges (412) 323-7201
Zone 2 Commander Eric Holmes, CRO Marlease Porter (412) 255-2827
Zone 3 Commander Catherine McNeilly, CRO Christine Luffey (412) 488-8326
Zone 4 Commander Kathryn Degler, CRO Shannon LeShen (412) 422-6520
Zone 5 Commander Timothy O’Conner, CRO Michael L. Gay (412) 665-3605
Zone 6 Commander Scott Schubert, CRO Kenneth Stevwing (412) 937-3051
A map of the police bureau zones in the City of Pittsburgh can be found here: Zone map
Fire trucks can attend events, too. Call Bureau of Fire Headquarters (412) 255-2860 or visit to contact a fire house in your community.
Emergency Management Service may also send available equipment. Call (412) 255-2633 to make arrangements.
Animal Care and Control, Bureau of Building Inspection and Emergency Management Agency and Homeland Security can provide informational brochures.
For more information, please direct questions to Department of Public Safety, SaferTogether Pittsburgh Coordinators: