Next Tuesday, Aug. 6, nearly 50 communities in Charles County will join neighborhoods throughout Southern Maryland and across the nation in celebrating the 36th annual National Night Out. From one end of the county to the other, and all in between, neighbors will be gathering for block parties from about 5 p.m. to as late as 10 p.m. in one community though most don’t go that late.

Police officers will certainly be dropping in — not to tell people to break it up or turn down the music, but to celebrate right along with them. The whole thing encourages lasting awareness, watchfulness and deterrence of criminal activity.

It shows residents — particularly our young people — that law enforcement professionals are peace officers. Part of keeping and promoting peace is for folks to see people with badges for who they really are: our neighbors, who are always ready to help at a moment’s notice.

If people know and recognize them, they’ll feel more comfortable with local law enforcement. That means they may be more aware of when something is amiss and feel more at ease alerting the police.

Neighborhoods and sites signed up to host NNO block parties include Heritage of St. Charles, Pinefield, La Plata Grande Garden Apartments I and II, Carroll La Plata Village, Carriage Crossing, Wexford Village II, Hawthorne Greene, Lancaster, Pomfret Estates, Gleneagles Neighborhood, Wakefield, Hampshire Neighborhood, Somerset Community, Fieldside, Nanjemoy Community Center, Ryan Woods, Town of Indian Head, Pineview Apartments, Village Green Apartments, Hunters Brook, Tarrington Creek, New Hope AME Church, La Plata Manor Apartments, Berry Hill Manor, Indian Head Elderly, Autumn Hills, 10th District Volunteer Fire Department, Ford Heights, Middletown Woods, White Oak Village HOA, Chestnut Grove, Constitution Hills, Dorchester Neighborhood, Church at St. Charles (First Baptist Church of St. Charles), Bryantown Road at Mount Eagle Drive, Washington Square, Laurel Branch, Cedarbrooke, Cobb Island, The Townes at Holly Station, Hickory Ridge, Ashford Oaks, Swan Point, Industrial Park Drive (Tri-County Youth Services), Eutaw Forest, Kingsview, Benedict Volunteer Fire Department and Sheffield. If your neighborhood is participating in National Night Out, but is not listed above, contact community organizer Connie Gray at the Charles County Sheriff’s Office at 301-932-3080, or email her at grayc@ccso.us.

“We enjoy being part of National Night Out each year and having the opportunity to engage and interact with the people of Charles County,” Sheriff Troy D. Berry (D) said in a recent press release. “When citizens and law enforcement get together to take a stand against crime, it sets a great example for our kids and future generations to keep the police and community relationship strong.”

We read all too often about misunderstandings across the country between law officers and citizens that end tragically, sometimes with the death of either the officer or the citizen. We’re fortunate not to have to print such news stories here in Charles, and perhaps much of that is owed to law enforcement’s neighborly presence in our local community.

Next Tuesday’s celebrations are another happy reminder that no matter what’s going on in this increasingly divided age, Charles is a relatively peaceful place on the planet. It’s not newsworthy that almost all of the 160,000-plus people who live, work, play and relax here do so safely each day, but it is pretty good news. So get out and enjoy the neighborhood.