On Tuesday night law enforcement officers across the country will meet with the residents of their jurisdictions and share a meal together as part of the annual Nation Night Out.

The first National Night Out was held in 1984 as a way to forge stronger relationships between police officers, first responders and the communities they serve. In its infancy, the event was celebrated by just 400 communities in 23 states, but it has since grown to reach more than 16,000 communities in every state. National Night Out is typically celebrated on the first Tuesday in August or October and often takes the form of block parties and cookouts with educational presentations and activities.

It’s no secret that tensions between the American public and police have been strained in recent years. Police departments, their officers and their tactics are under the microscope following years of controversial arrests and police shootings, primarily of unarmed black men. Such incidents have led many members of the public to fear or lose confidence in their police officers and have sparked a fierce debate over racial profiling, police brutality and the safety of both police officers and the public.

I’ll be covering this year’s National Night Out, and though I don’t know exactly what all the conversations will touch on, I can say what I hope the end result will be.

In my mind, the key to any successful, positive relationship is communication. That’s especially true in instances like these, where the topics of conversation are difficult and can make people feel like they’ve been placed on the defensive. While it might be difficult to hash out the issues that divide us, the only way we can possibly make any progress is by understanding the views, experiences and concerns of all involved. And that’s just what this event is about.

Happy birthday Tuesday to Josh Farris of Lewisville; Barbara Pond LeCroy of North Charleston, South Carolina; Shirley Pond Sawyer of Columbia, South Carolina; Curtis Myron Williams of Las Vegas; Ginger Smith Cook of Houston; Londyn Jones of Sherman; and Michael Edward Golston Jr. of Denison.

Happy anniversary Tuesday to Janann and Randy Hefner of Denison, 2 years.