Tuesday night, millions of Americans celebrated National Night Out, an annual event aimed at building relationships between law enforcement and communities and spreading awareness about public safety resources.


Here in Alaska, people gathered in Mountain View, one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the country, for a block party at the Mountain View Community Center.


The event followed a deadly weekend in Anchorage — three young men were murdered in just three days.


Organizers of the event said they are hoping positive interactions between residents and Anchorage Police Department officers will build trust and lead to less violence.


“They embrace us. I’ve gotten hugs,” said APD Lt. Denise Rollins, adding that the gathering was about connecting on the most basic of similarities. “People are people. Officers are people. We share the same grocery stores, we share the same churches.”


Nahla White, 11, said she hasn’t always trusted police, but when she saw Rollins, a female police officer, she wanted to go talk to her. The simple interaction sparked change.


“There are [police officers] that are out there that are just like, you trust them, and they’ll do whatever it takes to do the right thing and help protect the city,” White said.


Rollins said she’s fortunate to work in a community where most interactions with the public are positive. She said the key to avoiding the tension between police and civilians that’s in the Lower 48 is removing fear.


“The biggest thing is, even if they’re not particularly interested in saying hi to me, they’re not afraid,” she said of the children at the event.


This was the 33rd nationwide National Night Out, and the 16th Alaskans have participated in at the Mountain View Community Center, home of the Mountain View Boys and Girls Club.


KTVA 11’s Daniella Rivera can be reached via email or on Facebook and Twitter.


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