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National Night Out in Asheville forges friendships with police

National Night Out held at Wilshire Park in West Asheville on Tuesday. The program is meant to promote healthy police-community relations and is held the first Tuesday of every August every year. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- Asheville's National Night Out saw numerous block parties and officers mingling with residents throughout the night.

National Night Out is a program that promotes healthy police-community relations and is held the first Tuesday of every August.

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At Wilshire Park in West Asheville, organizer Rachel Jensen made an extra effort to show appreciation.

Asheville Police Department (APD) Crime Prevention Officer Keith McCulloch handed out souvenirs, including a new one this year, a police pen. He said one of the best safety measures is doing a neighborhood watch.

"That's what we try to do is bring them material," McCulloch said. "And tell them how easy it is to get a neighborhood watch program going."

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Neighbors who came clapped to show officers their appreciation for the work they do in Asheville.

The group then walked around the neighborhood to symbolize their effort to look out for one another.

A few blocks away, the city donated road blocks for Swannanoa Avenue's first Night Out block party.

"We want people to know how their neighbors are," Stacie Smith, the main organizer, said. "We want people to be proud of where they live and enjoy living here."

An officer brought out a police dog to do a working demonstration.

"One of the things I've found in this neighborhood is we all look out for each other," Tammy Casper said, who recently moved to the area.

Those who came said it's a community where friends, both new and old, look out for one another.

Other events were held across Buncombe County, including annual events put on by the sheriff's department at Biltmore Lake, Swannanoa and Black Mountain.

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