July 30, 2008 > National Night Out
National Night Out
Coming together against crime
By Sargunjot Kaur
Photos By Courtesy of Karen Blount
The 25th annual party against crime is back. National Night Out is an event organized for one major goal: to create safe communities by strengthening neighborhood and police relationships. Today, police are challenged by criminal forces that can rival comic book characters in their ferocity and ill-will toward society. Unlike fictional masked defenders with superpowers and technical gadgets that create superhuman attributes, local police forces must work as a team of dedicated individuals to protect ordinary citizens. However, preventing and combating crime takes more than a thin blue line of sworn officers; it requires a united police-community partnership.
In 1984, Matt A. Penskin, executive director of The National Association of Town Watch (NATW), had a similar idea when he introduced "America's Night Out Against Crime" or National Night Out program. NATW is a non-profit organization committed to the development, growth, and maintenance of organized crime prevention and drug prevention programs with the cooperation of thousands of crime watch groups and law enforcement agencies nationwide. National Night Out's started with participation from over 400 communities in 23 states, but the idea has spread and last year, 11,310 communities from all 50 states, U.S. territories, Canadian cities, and military bases worldwide celebrated the 24th Annual National Night Out. This year, over 12,000 communities throughout North America are expected to take part in the celebration.
The first Tuesday of August is reserved for National Night Out (NNO). Local communities have planned activities for that evening except Milpitas which celebrates on the following Thursday to avoid conflicts with its scheduled city council session. Dark streets are illuminated as community members gather for parties, outdoor "lights on" activities and front porch vigils. NNO has expanded over the years to include a wide range of neighborhood activities including block parties, cookouts, parades, visits from police, festivals, neighborhood walks, potluck dinners, ice cream socials, safety fairs, contests, rallies and meetings. Peskin said that although one night alone will not answer and prevent all answers to crime, drugs, and violence, National Night Out will let the criminals know that the community and police are together are organized to fight back. Results of this celebration have been successful, inexpensive, and enjoyable leading to a safer community and nation.
As in previous years, Fremont is ready to make National Night Out an unforgettable night with a spirited theme, "together we could make a difference." The CERT members and homeowners association are coming together to kick off the National Night Out celebration with over 130 registered Fremont parties including attendees from Ardenwood, Cameron Hills, Mission San Jose and Parkmont. "Last year, there was a large pre-party in Cabrillo and one held at the Hub in the Target parking lot. They had a jumper house, games food and other activities for the participants," said Fremont Community Engagement Specialist, Karen Blount. Not only do the events include International themed potlucks and BBQ, but many of the parties will host a "Green or Eco-Friendly" event using only recyclable products and collect food waste for compost. Fremont firefighters have also volunteered to visit the parties with the fire engine to talk about crime and violence. For more information call Karen Blount, Community Engagement Specialist (510) 790-6689.
Union City is encouraging the participation of neighborhoods and communities to come together and have fun on National Night Out. In the online invitation sent out by Sgt. Manuel Leon of the Union City Police Department, the police department, elected city officials and city employees will be making visits to the National Night Out events in hope to strengthen the ties between residents and the Union City Police Department. Every registered party will receive at least one visit from one of the city officials on National Night Out. For more information call Officer Manny Leon at (510) 675-5263.
Newark is making National Night Out a big educational ordeal and informing all of its residents on the importance of keeping safe from vandals, taggers, and graffiti problems. Tips about solicitor safety and graffiti and vandalism precautions can be found on the City of Newark's website. Police officers and firefighters will also be making visits around the city visiting NNO events. For more information call Neighborhood Watch at (510) 790-6740.
The City of Hayward Police Department is sending messages to Hayward neighborhoods to participate in the National Night Out celebration in order to show an organized spirit in promoting crime prevention. A Hayward Neighborhood Alert Car-A-Van will be sending out the NNO invites on Monday July 28 at 6 p.m. at the Southland Mall. Along with the block parties, the "Lights On" Campaign will run from 7 p.m. - 10 p.m. on August 5. Call Mary Fabian (510) 293-1043 for more information.
The Milpitas police department invites citizen participation in National Night Out. Citizens have used NNO as a tool to initiate local Neighborhood Watch groups and to get acquainted with neighbors. Officers from the police department visit individual gatherings, meet with citizens, and distribute crime prevention information. Police stickers and police car tours are a favorite for the children attending the events. For more information or a list of event locations, contact Officer Levine Visico (408) 586-2531 or Officer Kevin Jackson (408) 586-2528 of the Milpitas Police Department Community Relations Unit.
National Night Out
Tuesday, August 5
Thursday, August 7