DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – Across North Texas and the nation tonight, neighbors will gather to take a stand against crime. Locally, in one Dallas neighborhood that includes convincing residents that police are not the enemy.

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The South Dallas neighborhood that narrowly averted a riot early this summer, will tonight encourage homeowners to take to the streets to take a stand against crime.

The Dallas Police Department’s Office of Community Affairs, along with the Southeast Patrol Division, is sponsoring the National Night Out event at the Larry Johnson Recreation Center.

Tonight’s events there will include entertainment, activities for the kids and a chance for adults to see that police aren’t just making empty promises about improving relations with their community.

“This was one of the nicest places in Dallas, that’s why I bought here… because it was just like down home, ya know,” said Dixon Circle homeowner B.D. Smith.

B.D. and Vivian Smith bought their home in Dixon Circle more than a half century ago. It’s been heartbreaking, they say, to watch the neighborhood decline.

“The wrong people came in here. The wrong people with all of these drugs and gangs and all that stuff, and just messed it up,” he said.

Then in July the simmering discontent among some in the community came dangerously close to boiling over. Fueled by rumors, an angry crowd gathered in the street following the police involved shooting that left a convicted drug dealer dead.

A riot was averted, but Dallas police Chief David Brown says he wants to see lasting change.

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“It’s very important for this community to see us walk the walk and not just talk a good game,” he said.

Chief Brown announced a number of new policies designed to help build better relations with the community. One of them — the Dallas Police Athletic League began playing basketball with neighborhood kids at the local recreation center.

“And that’s gone over really well with the young kids, but we want to reach out to the entire community and make sure that their perceptions of us change,” the chief said.

Homeowners say they’ve already seen the benefits of increased police presence.

“They’re [police] out here just about everyday, coming around and sitting and he’s doing a great job, so far,” B.D. Smith said encouraged.

Still the Smith’s and longtime neighbor Doris LuGrand say they are supporting Chief Brown in his efforts to tackle crime. They say they understand that change takes time and LuGrand added that one thing is already perfect: her neighbors.

“If I was able to buy a $200,000 house, I wouldn’t have better neighbors than I’ve got right here,” she said.

Chief Brown has a full schedule of National Night Out events to visit; but he says one of his first stops will be Dixon Circle.

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