National Night Out a chance to build community

Former commissioner says NNO time to meet neighbors, not just police

SAN ANTONIO – Tommy Adkisson's late next-door neighbor used to come out and talk to the people who pulled into his driveway.

"'Are you looking for Tommy?'" he said she'd ask.

If they were, she'd help put them in touch with the former Bexar County commissioner. If they were there to case his place, Adkisson figured, they'd be scared off.

She may have been a little nosy, but Adkisson said the woman next door was the ideal neighbor — the kind of person who watched out for the other people in the neighborhood.

As neighborhoods around the state gather tonight to meet their local police for National Night Out, Adkisson sees it as an opportunity for neighborhoods themselves to become tighter, too. It's a chance to meet the people who live next door or down the street, not just the ones who patrol them.

"I don't have a home security system because I have the best home security system in the world." he said. "It's called good neighbors."

Adkisson started the Bowen Center for Neighborhood Advocacy, which helps neighborhood associations strengthen their communities. He said National Night Out can build neighborly connections, which in turn strengthens the neighborhood, too.

"Safety first," he said. "But safety has to come based upon, I think, people caring about each other, yes, but knowing each other."

Adkisson lives just a few doors down from his childhood home in Highland Hills. His mother, Mary Lou, said it's "more or less" a strong neighborhood.

"We used to be very close," she said. "A lot of them have moved out and new people have moved in."

Neighborly spirit was still on display, though.

Carmen Vargas was on her way to lunch when she saw a neighbor walking with groceries. So she gave her a ride home.

"That's what neighbors do," she explained.

It was an example of neighbors looking out for one another, which is the basis of a neighborhood.

List of 2016 National Night Out locations with all districts 

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