National Night Out helps curb crime
Published 11:06 am Wednesday, October 8, 2014
Under a shady grove of trees on the end of Lightcap Boulevard, a handful of neighborhood residents mingled with policemen as the sun slowly set. The gathering was part of National Night Out, an awareness-raising event sponsored by members of the community and police — when Neighborhood Watch groups plan a number of events.
The assembly of local Neighborhood Watch members and police, who grilled hot dogs and socialized well past dusk, served as a way for local law enforcement to connect with its residents without dealing with a crime or break-in.
“Peace officers are a part of the community and the community are part of us,” Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace said. “For law enforcement to be able to truly know the public that they’re serving is important for the public and it’s important to us.”
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Events like National Night Out have been instrumental, not only in developing community relationships with police officers, but also with fellow neighbors.
“It’s all about the neighbors knowing each other. Being a lookout, that’s what a neighborhood watch is all about,” Vicksburg Police Department investigator Derick Smith said. “Knowing your neighbors and making sure everybody knows one another to where, if you see something going on, you say something.”
Tom Holmes has been a longtime resident of Lightcap Boulevard and commended the annual event for helping curbing area crime while allowing neighborhood residents to get to know police officers on a personal basis.
“We get to know our neighbors. We usually have a pretty good turnout every year,” Holmes said. “This has really helped people who see something out of line give a call.”
But perhaps the most important goal of National Night Out is developing neighborhood bonds, which police officers said helps increase reports on crime and keeps residents on their toes.
“Many times people will live in a neighborhood or a subdivision for years and never actually know their neighbors,” Pace said. “When you have events like this and encourage people to come out, you may see relationships develop that in the past did not exist. You’re much more likely to be attentive to a problem or something suspicious going on at your friends house than someone that you don’t even know.”
National Night Out also served as a launch date for the newest neighborhood watch in in Warren County.
“We have one on the intersection of Mt. Alban and Warriors Trail. It’s a brand new neighborhood watch. They’ve never had one in that area, and it’s just the timing happened to fall just right that we could have the organizational meeting on the National Night Out,” Pace said.