Purpose of Safe Summer Nights
How do you spread safety and goodwill throughout the city? By firing up the grill, of course. The Safe Summer Nights program is designed to provide opportunities for police officers to become acquainted with residents of the neighborhoods they serve over a meal rather than during times of trouble.
This is an important moment in time. Tensions between police and communities of color are reaching a boiling point. Mistrust makes headlines. People are looking for ways to strengthen connections between officers and the people they serve. People want solutions—and they want them now.
Safe Summer Nights is part of the solution.
The initiative began in 2014 when Safe Summer Nights partnered with the Saint Paul Police Department and the Saint Paul Parks and Recreation Department to host 14 events in Saint Paul that brought neighborhood families and police officers together in a picnic-type setting.
It was so successful that it generated interest throughout the Metro. In 2015, Safe Summer Nights expanded to 22 events—14 in Saint Paul and eight in surrounding communities. In addition, we have received requests from officials throughout the metro to host events in their communities.
In 2016, 14 events are scheduled in Saint Paul, six in Minneapolis and six in Washington County. West Saint Paul has asked for two dates in 2016. Dakota County Sheriff Tim Leslie has requested additional events in other jurisdictions in Dakota County. And we’re in discussions with Oakdale, White Bear Lake, Brooklyn Center, Bloomington, and throughout Washington County.
Safe Summer Night helps bridge the gap between police and the people they serve. And its success is apparent. In 2014, our 75 volunteers served more than 9,000 meals. The next year, that number soared to 29,500. More importantly, we provided opportunities for police and citizens to connect.
Now, we want to build on our success by doubling the number of events in 2016 and increasing the meals served by 200 percent. Together, we can continue to be part of the solution at this important moment in time.
Change the typical dialogue that occurs between youth and police officers from confrontational to engaging
Increase trust between law enforcement and the community
Build relationships and strengthen ties in the community
Provide positive, supportive and encouraging role models for inner-city youth; particularly male role models