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Cops and kids take back the night together

Cops and Canarsie residents walked the beat together on Aug. 3 as the 69th Precinct held its annual National Night Out Against Crime celebration.

Dozens of residents — mostly young families — linked up with their neighborhood protectors on Rockaway Parkway between Foster Avenue and Avenue D Tuesday evening for a barbecue, some fun and games, and a brief “take back the night” parade through the community.

For the last 27 years, residents and local law enforcement have gathered together on the first Tuesday in August to heighten crime and drug awareness in their communities and learn about local anti-crime programs.

But as crime dipped in the city, its message changed somewhat. The yearly events lightened up on its “taking back the streets” warnings and became celebrations on improved police and community relations.

“On National Night Out the community show they appreciate the police’s efforts and, vice versa, cops show their love of the community,” explained Lt. James Woods, leader of Patrol Borough Brooklyn South’s Community Affairs division, who added that personal interactions between the police and the public go a long way in strengthening community ties.

“At this event kids are able to see police officers doing things other than arresting people,” he said. “They saw another slice of life about policing instead of the TV version.”

Yet the crime reduction rubber band could be snapping back. Facing an 84 percent jump in burglaries, a 34 percent increase in assaults and nearly 43 percent leap in rapes so far this year, cops from the 69th Precinct upped the number of crime prevention and domestic violence programs usually advertised at these celebrations.

National Night Out is organized by the National Association of Town Watch. Over 36 million people participated in National Night Out celebrations across the country, Canada and military bases worldwide in 2009, organizers said.

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