The annual event, which is now held in the early autumn instead of the traditionally sizzling nights of summer, gets underway at 7 p.m. in the North Cleveland Church of God’s Dale Hughes gymnasium.
The Sheriff’s Office is working with an appropriate partner to bring NNO to the community — the GRAAB Coalition, a group of community enthusiasts who have aligned themselves with area law enforcement and counseling agencies to help fight back against crime and the addictive behaviors that are impacting its numbers.
Tonight’s NNO is especially important because of at least two reasons, and probably more.
One, this year Lt. Bob Hancock, who heads the Neighborhood Watch program for the Sheriff’s Office, is working in overdrive to increase the number of subdivisions, streets and communities that are operating such neighbor-helping-neighbor initiatives. Two, our Cleveland and Bradley County community, over the past few weeks, reportedly has been hit with a rash of burglary and theft crimes in its southern end.
Such incidents, which traumatize innocent families and bring unrest to entire areas, and especially to those that have been invaded by uncaring criminals, can be curbed greatly, but it takes the cooperation of area residents who want to get involved with area law enforcement in working partnerships to protect the property of one another and each other.
Neighborhood Watch programs can’t eliminate crime altogether, but an active alliance of neighbors who become the eyes and ears of law enforcement can put a conspicuous crunch on wrongdoers. Neighborhood Watch isn’t about taking the law into our own hands. It is about keeping eyes open and picking up the telephone when suspicious activity is observed.
Tonight’s NNO is especially relevant because — in fitting October fashion — it has been labeled “Gathering of the Watches.” The “gathering” is aimed at bringing together the many Neighborhood Watch groups already in operation locally, as well as Bradley County residents who are not affiliated with a group but who want to learn more about how it works and how to motivate neighborhoods in getting started.
A variety of public safety officials will be on hand tonight, as well as representatives from the GRAAB Coalition, Court Appointed Special Advocates and several others. Various public safety vendors also will attend to provide useful information on how to protect homes, private property and each other.
Tonight’s NNO is free to the public. Refreshments will be served, but most importantly can-do information will be available that can lead to helpful contacts between neighborhoods, individuals and law enforcement personnel.
NNO events, which originated in 1994, are designed to heighten crime and drug prevention awareness, generate support for and participation in local anti-crime programs, and strengthen neighborhood spirit and police and community partnerships.
NNO is not just local. According to reports, some 37 million people now take part in the NNO events that are held in all 50 states. Some 15,000 communities will participate this year.
Plenty of information will be available tonight, but anyone who wants to jump-start a neighborhood or street into action is encouraged to contact Hancock at the BCSO at 728-7300.
Neighborhood Watch is an excellent program. National Night Out events help to bring it face-to-face with those who can benefit — people, property and law enforcement.
Tonight’s NNO can serve as the first step in fighting back against crime.
We urge individuals and neighborhoods to take it.