“It is the first time that we’ve gone an entire year where we haven’t had an opportunity like Night to Unite to engage with them,” said Lino Lakes Police Chief John Swenson. “This year is really double what a normal year would be in terms of reaching out and engaging with those new neighborhoods.”
Angie Cahlander says her neighborhood has grown by one third since the last Night to Unite block party in 2019.
“Our neighborhood has now grown very large and so there’s lot of pockets of people that are very close, but it is amazing to meet and see all the people who live in this community,” said Cahlander.
That last party featured a windy helicopter visit from North Memorial Air Care, popsicles for kids and water balloon fun. But police see opportunities to connect that go beyond food and fun. Chief Swenson wants the first contact people have with his officers to be positive. It can help build trust that’s important later.
“We want to create opportunities to engage with our public before it’s an emergency situation so we can establish those relationships in advance of the emergency that we may be responding to,” said Swenson.
That feeling works both ways.
“I think there’s going to be times we will need to call when there’s issues and we want them to know our community and know that we’re really good people and to get to know us and for us to get to know them,” said Holly Linn, also a Lino Lakes block party organizer.
Police say it’s important to connect with new residents as soon as possible to establish crime prevention partnerships, getting to know what’s normal in a neighborhood, and speaking up when something’s not right.
“How can you be a good neighbor to your neighbor? Calling when you see something suspicious, giving us good information about what you’re seeing out there in your neighborhood, keeping a close eye out for your neighbors and recognizing what’s unusual in your neighborhood,” said Swenson.
Lino Lakes Police are reaching out to residents in areas like Watermark, Northpointe, Saddle Club and Nadeau Acres to schedule a Night to Unite block party.
If you live in Lino Lakes, you can call the Public Safety Department at 651-982-2323 to have someone staff visit the neighborhood gathering. Night to Unite is Tuesday evening, August 3.