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      National Night Out: Police officers meet residents to forge bond

      At the night out event in Hyattsville. (Photo: Ashley Billings)

      (AP, ABC7) Police and prosecutors from around the region are out in their communities as part of a nationwide effort to get neighborhoods involved in crime prevention.

      The events are meant "just to set a safe environment," said Officer Irene Hughes of the Metropolitan Police Department.

      Police forces are walking the streets, meeting residents. Some MPD officers were cooking and playing football.

      The event, sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch, is in its 28th year.

      It's intended to bring attention to crime prevention awareness and to encourage partnerships between the police and their communities.

      Events range from modest gathering like one in Upper Northwest D.C. to more elaborate events such as one being prepared at Piney Branch Elementary where Governor Martin O'Malley is set to make an appearance. The state's attorneys and county executives from Montgomery and Prince George's counties are also scheduled to come to multiple events Tuesday evening.

      In Takoma Park, crime has dropped almost 20 percent over the past four years.

      "These are numbers we are judged by," Chief Ronald Ricucci of Takoma Park police said.

      Takoma Park resident Adam Wadhiamaot says nights like these are important especially for children.

      In the District, the police chief says this truly the best way for her officers to meet neighbors face-to-face. D.C. resident Nichelle Johnson says she has more faith in her police department knowing who the men and women in uniform are.