Nashville's annual Night Out Against Crime came in the midst of a summer that's seen a dramatic rise in violence. At a park in East Nashville, a neighborhood where shootings are the highest in decades, parents and police gathered for a night of peace.
Milton Thomas, a father of five, walks along enjoying a snow cone and a hot dog with his three girls. But he's acutely aware that this summer has not been a calm one. Shootings and homicides are way up in the neighborhood, especially in the James Cayce Homes where he's a maintenance worker.
"The senseless violence and crimes, it has to stop. It has to stop," Thomas says. "I got my kids, I got my girls with me now. But I got two boys, too. You got to protect them. And the nonsense has got to stop."
He says to do that he gets his kids involved in any and all activities possible — like what's going on tonight.
East Precinct Commander David Imhof says events like this, where families can come and enjoy food and face painting and connect with neighborhood organizations, are critical to keeping crime under control.
"When people get more engaged in their neighborhood associations, I find it makes our community stronger. And with that, I think it makes our community safer," Imhof says.
When more people connect with neighbors and with the police, Imhof says, it means more eyes watching when crime does happen.