SARTELL -- A nationwide event designed to raise crime and drug prevention awareness has neighbors locking their doors and throwing a party this (Tuesday) evening.

Sartell Police Officer Rob Lyon says National Night Out is an annual event that brings local law enforcement and neighbors together in hopes of strengthening the community.

"A lot of times when we go to calls and neighbors don't even know who their next door neighbor is," says Lyon.

Neighborhoods throughout central Minnesota will hold a variety of entertainment such as food, games, and contests.

Lyon says the night is a great way to open the lines of communication, and answer questions.

"We talk with the adults about what's happening around town regarding break-ins, what we are seeing traffic wise, maybe talk about road construction," says Lyon.

As well as have a chance to interact with the kids in the city.

"Kids love the squad car, they love seeing us, turning the lights on, play and touch the stuff in the squad car," says Lyon.

The evening is meant to generate support for anti-crime efforts, strengthen neighborhoods and send a message to criminals that neighborhoods are fighting back.

Lyon says he enjoys getting out and meeting the community, but adds not to forget the message of the evening -- to prevent crime and know law enforcement is there to help.

"If you see something suspicious, even though you might not think it is let us know," says Lyon.

Over 38-million people throughout the United States are expected to participate in National Night Out.

Sartell Police officers interact with kids during National Night Out. (Photo: Alex Svejkovsky, WJON)