Dancing at the annual Stop the Violence block party in South Berkeley during National Night Out in 2016. Photo: Lo Grayson

Berkeley neighbors and community groups are preparing to host close to 90 block parties tonight, Tuesday, for National Night Out, an annual event designed to strengthen relations between law enforcement and city officials and the public.

This year, 88 neighborhoods and organizations have signed up to participate in the police-sponsored city of Berkeley event, said officer Sean Tinney. The organizations participating truly “span the gamut” — from churches to medical marijuana dispensary Berkeley Patients Group, Tinney noted. (See a list of the organizers and locations.)

Among the planned events are potlucks, ice cream socials and dance parties. Police officers, firefighters, elected officials and city staffers will make the rounds to chat with residents.

Berkeley Police Chief Andy Greenwood meets young Berkeleyans during National Night Out in 2016. Photo: City of Berkeley

“We always look to connect with the community and engage them in conversation,” said Tinney, who has participated in National Night Out for most of his seven years with BPD. “Occasionally there are some conversations about controversial topics, but because of the comfortable setting I feel like we’ve often gained strides in having the community understand what we do for a living.”

This year, those conversation are likely to touch on a recent shooting incident in southwest Berkeley and the City Council’s decision to allow police and firefighters to continue attending the Urban Shield training exercise, which sparked outcry among activists.

A potluck on National Night Out, Aug. 2, 2016. Photo: City of Berkeley

Residents with questions about this year’s National Night Out events can call the BPD community services division at 510-981-5806.

Berkeley was one of thousands of communities across the country that participated in National Night Out last year, according to the campaign. This is the 34th anniversary of the event.

BPD has also launched a series of community forums, where residents can also engage with officers — though there are no potlucks promised at those events.

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Natalie Orenstein

Natalie Orenstein reports on housing and homelessness for The Oaklandside. Natalie was a Berkeleyside staff reporter from early 2017 to May 2020. She had previously contributed to the site since 2012,...