Tri-Cities Voice Newspaper - What's Happening - Fremont, Union City, Newark California

July 26, 2005 > National Night Out!

National Night Out!

by Linda Stone

A unique crime and drug prevention program was introduced in 1984 to the National Association of Town Watch (NATW) by Matt Peskin who felt that a high-profile, high-impact type of crime prevention event was needed nationally. At that time only 5 to 7 percent of typical crime watch communities were participating. Due to the growth and success of these programs, he felt that this percentage was too low. As a result, he proposed a national program that could be coordinated by local crime prevention agencies and organizations to involve entire communities at one time and gained funding from Justice Assistance (BJA), U.S. Department of Justice.

That first year, 400 communities in 23 states participated in National Night Out. Nationwide, 2.5 million Americans took part in 1984. Now in its 22nd year, the event has grown to involve more than 34 million people in over 10,000 communities from all 50 states, U.S. territories, Canadian cities, and military bases worldwide.

National Night Out is designed to heighten crime and drug prevention awareness; generate support for, and participation in, local anticrime programs; strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships; and send a message to criminals letting them know that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.

While the traditional "lights on'" and front porch vigils remain a part of NNO, activities have expanded considerably over the years to include block parties, cookouts, parades, visits from police, festivals, neighborhood walks, safety fairs, contests, rallies and meetings.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced its participation in National Night Out this year. Materials and information from the Department's Ready campaign will be distributed to the public at events across the nation. Ready and its Spanish language version, Listo, ask people to do three key things: get an emergency supply kit; make a family emergency plan; and be informed about different types of emergencies that could occur and their appropriate responses.
"We are pleased to join the National Association of Town Watch by providing emergency preparedness information at National Night Out events across the country," stated Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff on the Department's website. "National Night Out's efforts to create safe and prepared communities go hand in hand with the mission of the Ready campaign, to educate and empower American families and businesses to prepare for and respond to emergencies."

National Night Out
Tuesday, Aug. 2
Thursday, Aug. 4 (Milpitas)

Activities in the Tri-City area include:

From 7 to 9 p.m. the city-wide celebration will include Neighborhood Crime Watch groups, CERT members, homeowners associations, and other neighborhood groups interested in celebrating and strengthening their neighborhood connections. Groups of city of Fremont elected officials, commissioners, and employees, including police and fire department staff will visit block parties. . Last year they had over 130 parties, and every party received at least one visit.

From 7 to 10 p.m., residents in are asked to lock their doors, turn on outside lights, and spend the evening outside with neighbors and police. Many neighborhoods throughout Newark will host a variety of events including block parties, cookouts, dessert socials, youth activities and visits from police and fire departments. The Crime Prevention Specialist, along with McGruff, "The Crime Dog," will make visitations to a few of the groups hosting block parties.

Union City
Officials will host a booth at Union Landing with community officers and elected and appointed officials on hand to answer questions about safety and crime prevention between 5:30 to 9 p.m.

The city will celebrate National Night out on Thursday, Aug 4 at 6:30 p.m. The date was changed due a conflict with city council meetings scheduled on Tuesday. Public officials and community relations officers will hand out pamphlets throughout the 14 block parties scheduled.

Elected officials, the city manager and police department employees will meet at 5 p.m. at the police department to ride with officers to visit 15 to 20 block parties until 9 p.m. "We have a very active neighborhood alert group," said Police Chief Lloyd Lowe. For over five years the department and community members travel around the neighborhoods in a "Car-O-Van" of 30 to 50 cars about a week prior to NNO with anti-drug information to gear up for the main event.

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