BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — 2023 marks 40 years of the annual ‘National Night Out,’ a night where communities are able to get to know their police officers on a more personal level. Tuesday night, several local departments hosted events for families.

Officer Truman Fitzgerald with the Birmingham Police Department says it was great to see so many community members coming out to the east precinct for National Night Out. It was also a special evening as Voices of Black Mothers United honored two Birmingham police officers for their efforts fighting gun violence.

“The police department is working in the community and the community is watching the police and know that we’re doing a good job in the community,” says Birmingham Police Captain Janice Blackwell.

Fitzgerald and Blackwell were awarded certificates by the Alabama chapter of Voices of Black Mothers to celebrate their involvement in the community combating violence. Birmingham Police say they’re doing a lot of community education surrounding gun safety and awareness, from speaking at high schools to passing out gun locks.

“A lot of people are calling us back. They said that mainly with the kids they have questions they would like to ask the police so we go back and talk to them again, so I think it’s going well,” says Blackwell.

“We always try to be a voice for the victim’s families. We always try to be a voice for the victim and the mothers and family members, we want them to know they’re not forgotten,” says Fitzgerald.

Although a lot of work is being done to try and curb gun violence in the city, Voices of Black Mothers United says it will take more than just work from police.

“It’s going to take community and police, everybody working together to come up with solutions to try and combat gun violence,” said Jessica Barnes, the Alabama state lead for Voices of Black Mothers United.

Events like National Night Out give officers and people in the community the chance to come together and build relationships so solutions can be found to problems like gun violence.

The community says they’re glad to have the opportunity to meet neighbors and get to know the officers on patrolling their area.