In downtown Omaha, hundreds will gather at Metropolitan Community Church get to know each other and officers to participate in National Night Out.
Given the rising tension seen in cities across the nation between communities and law enforcement, Pastor Tom Emmett says the annual event is needed more than ever.
“It's a difficult climate,” Emmett says. “With all of the intensity, right now with the election. People are a little uneasy.”
The pastor is a firm believer that one night in the year could help bridge that divide.
“National Night Out is an awesome way for people to come out and meet their neighbors, have fun,” he says. “[And] importantly meet the police so we can build relationships between the community and police.”
This year marks the church's eighth time hosting the annual event.
Hours before it starts, Emmett and volunteers will be in and out of the church to set up for later.
“Getting everything ready from the bouncy house to the deejay to the school supplies – we plan for about five months to make sure everything is going to work and everything is going to go off without a hitch,” Emmett says.
Like last year, the church plans to feature food and fun including music and a waterslide.
According to the pastor, Mayor Jean Stothert confirmed her attendance and perhaps Omaha police’s helicopter Able 1 may make an appearance.
For students who attend Liberty Elementary, there will be a backpack giveaway while supplies last. The church plans to hand off the donations to the teachers, who in turn will distribute them.
Emmett says he looks forward to this evening for one specific reason.
While Omaha is diverse, it can also be very segregated, he says
“I think there is a hope here when you see what this event looks like – you can see what a unified Omaha looks like.”
National Night Out at Metropolitan Community Church of Omaha is Tuesday, Aug. 2 from 5 to 8 p.m., located at 819 S. 22nd St.
To learn more about National Night Out, click here.