SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — In an effort to strengthen relations between neighborhoods and law enforcement agencies, cities throughout the Bay Area and country are taking part in National Night Out events Tuesday evening.

Always celebrated on the first Tuesday in August, the annual campaign consists of neighborhood gatherings in which neighbors are encouraged to interact with one another and their local law enforcement agencies.

Neighbors and community leaders were encouraged last month to register their neighborhoods in preparation for events and visits by police, fire and city officials.

“National Night Out is an opportunity for people to help support police-community partnerships and raise crime prevention awareness in their neighborhood by having residents get to know each other,” Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said in a statement.

“It’s these connections that build communities block-by-block. This is important because the best crime prevention tool ever invented is a good neighbor,” Schaaf said.

At least 564 block parties have been scheduled throughout Oakland. For a list of all the city’s National Night Out events, those interested can visit www.oaklandnet.com/nno.

In addition to the hundreds of block parties and barbecues scheduled in neighborhoods all over the Bay Area, police departments and communities have announced events at parks and other locations.

It has been a year full of strife between communities and the police protecting them, and no San Francisco neighborhood knows that feeling more than the Bayview.

“How would do you think people in the Bayview view police?” asked resident Cheryl McLaughlin.

There have been two fatal officer involved shooting in the Bayview in the last nine months. At Tuesday night’s National Night Out event, SFPD hopes the face to face interaction between police, fire and community members will mend a fences.

“Where can we go from here? Because at the end of the day, we work for the community. We are here to help the community,” said SFPD Public Information Officer Carlos Manfredi.

National Night Out happens every year, but never in a climate so highly charged.

On both the local and national level there have been protests, shootings and officers being targeted, so Tuesday night’s event has never been more important.

The San Francisco Police Department will also be holding 10 events throughout the city for each of their police districts, held in their respective neighborhoods. For information about the events, residents can visit www.sanfranciscopolice.org/nightout.

Police in San Bruno will put on an event at Grundy Park at 6 p.m. The event will provide information to residents interested in learning about how to start a watch group in their neighborhood.

In San Jose, an event to honor fallen police Officer Michael Katherman will be held at Regional Medical Center of San Jose at 225 N. Jackson Ave.

Katherman was killed in June while on-duty in a traffic collision. The hospital will hold an ice cream social at 5 p.m. and will feature helicopter demonstrations as well as CPR and first aid training.

The Emmanuel Temple Apostolic Church in Vallejo will hold a resource fair in support of National Night Out, featuring dozens of vendors, free food and clothes and games. That event will start at 6 p.m. at 900 Sixth St., city officials said.

BART police will also be participating in National Night Out. Officers will be on hand at several stations, including Ashby, Castro Valley, Montgomery, Pittsburg/Bay Point, Rockridge and San Bruno. At the participating stations, officers will provide safety information, activities and prize giveaways.

“In light of all the recent police related tragic events which have occurred throughout the country, this year’s National Night Out celebration gives even more significance to the idea that ‘the people are the police and the police are the people,'” BART police Chief Kenton Rainey said in a statement. “We recognize and accept it is impossible for us to be successful without support from all the diverse communities we serve.”

As the events are being held Tuesday evening, an alternative community gathering promoting public safety will take place. Night Out for Safety and Liberation will be held at Oakland’s Lowell Park around 5:30 p.m.

The event, which was put together by the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, will focus on redefining public safety without the extra police presence, according to organizers.

“National Night Out promotes the idea that building better relationships with police can make us safer, but picnics and block parties with police are not going to end law enforcement violence,” Ella Baker Center organizer Darris Young said in a statement.

“Right now, people of color are being rapidly displaced from their homes in Oakland. Real community safety is when we all have a place to live, a living wage job and access to health care and education,” Young said.

The event will feature activities, speakers and performances by Fantastic Negrito and other musicians.

In addition to the Oakland event, other Night Out for Safety and Liberation events will be held in more than 25 other cities in California and nationwide. For more information about the event, those interested can visit nosl.me.

TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News Service contributed to this report.

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