Thursday, September 27, 2012
Neighborhood associations throughout north Hamilton County are encouraging residents to gather together and be proactive in the fight against crime by hosting National Night Out events the evening of Tuesday, Oct. 2.
“There’s a real resurgence in people who want to get to know their neighbors,” said Shannon Wilson, Neighborhood Watch coordinator for the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office, who plans to attend events all over the county that night.
The National Night Out events allow those who may not have been invovled previously with their neighborhood group to get out and meet their neighbors as well as local law enforcement officers.
The events are typically held in August, but state officials changed the date to Oct. 2 this year to avoid the heat, said Wilson.
Red Bank Neighborhood Pride Association is hosting an event for the entire city in conjunction with the Red Bank Police Department at City Park from 6-8 p.m.
Red Bank Police Chief Tim Christol said the department will set up booths manned by officers representing different groups such as the patrol, SWAT and negotiations teams.
“It’s an opportunity to share information to help [residents] be safer in the community, and we encourage them to call us if they see suspicious activity in their neighborhood,” he said. Citizens are more comfortable if we have to respond to a call at their residence if they get to see more of the human side of law enforcement.”
Christol said being aware of one’s surroundings is the most important thing citizens can do to avoid being a victim of crime.
“Get to know your neighbors and watch out for each other,” he said.
The events are about more than just crime prevention, but also seek to bring the community together through fun activities.
Red Bank’s event features games for kids and live music by Steve Daugherty in the city’s new pavilion. Hot dogs and beverages will also be available, said Erin Creal, vice chair of Red Bank Neighborhood Pride, which has hosted National Night Out events in the city for the past three years.
Those who do not belong to a Neighborhood Watch group are encouraged to check the list of existing groups on the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office website or contact Wilson to see if an event is happening in their area.
Wilson said she can also provide information on how to start a Neigborhood Watch group. Since she took over the program in 2009, she said the number of Neighborhood Watch groups in the county has grown from 20 to 175.
“Neighborhood Watch brings communities closer,” she said. “They watch out for their neighbors, and it’s a comfort for them to get to know us [at the Sheriff’s Office]. It makes such a difference if they know we work for them and feel a comfort level when they get home.”
She said the Pebble Brook subdivision in Soddy-Daisy recently established a group, which will be hosting a National Night out event in the “cove” of Boulder View Drive beginning at 6:30 p.m. Residents are encouraged to attend to meet new neighbors and receive information regarding their Neighborhood Watch program.
To find out more about events occurring in the city of Chattanooga, contact Wayne Jefferson at 698-2525.