This Tuesday is National Night Out. If you're not involved in a community group like I am, NNO is probably not on your radar screen.
So what is National Night Out? It's America's Night Out Against Crime, a drug and crime prevention effort.
Oh, yeah -- and there's outdoor bowling.
NNO was started by the National Association of Town Watch in 1984. Traditionally it was a night when neighbors were encouraged to turn the lights on and spend the evening outside with neighbors and police. But in many cities, the event has evolved and taken a number of different forms, from neighborhood walks to block parties.
No matter the form, NNOs purpose is to:
+Heighten crime and drug prevention awareness
+Generate support for, and participation in, local anti-crime efforts
+Strengthen neighborhood spirit and community partnerships
+Send a message to criminals letting them know neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.
Forming a partnership with law enforcement is crucial in preventing crime; so is getting to know your neighbors. North Lansingburgh Neighborhood Watch provides a perfect example of this philosophy for us. Recently the neighborhood had seen a string of burglaries in the area --38 since June. Tuesday a special meeting was held so Chief John Tedesco could share information with residents, and more importantly, solicit their help in catching those responsible for the crimes. Residents were encouraged to report everything that seems out of the ordinary or suspicious to the police. The group's Facebook page saw a lot of activity after the meeting, with several neighbors sharing details about suspicious activity in the area.
Friday there was one report that two suspects were in custody, having been picked up with backpacks containing gloves and other common burglary tools. An alert neighbor reportedly noticed several individuals knocking on doors and peering in windows. When confronted, they said they were looking for Jon Jon. (If you come down to the park early enough, you may even have the opportunity to talk with Jim Gordon about his North Lansingburgh Watch ... he also also volunteered as a dunkee this year.)
I have been to several neighborhood meetings where Chief Tedesco has been a guest. He always emphasizes that residents should not hesitate to report any suspicious activity to the Troy PD. Our police officers need our eyes and ears; it is impossible for them to be everywhere at once. And in order for us to know what is suspicious, we need to know each other.
So, for the second year, my neighborhood group will be hosting a festival on NNO at the park on 7th Avenue, between Ingalls and Middleburgh, from 6 to 8p.m. We have planned another fun, family-friendly evening, and have even added a bounce house this year. There will also be a dunking booth, face painting, music, games, contests, and raffles. Troy's Hook a Kid on Golf program will offer kids an opportunity to putt, and Uncle Sam's Lanes will bring their portable bowling lane down to the park.
Wait. WHAT?! A portable bowling lane?! ZOMG! BOWLING IS FUN! (Random fact about me: I spent Saturday mornings as a child in my grandfatherís bowling alley in Central NY.)
Last year my favorite moment was dropping Councilman Mark McGrath in the dunking booth. He has (been) volunteered to be a dunkee again this year.
We will also have refreshments available including hot dogs, drinks, and cookies. My neighbors are still busting their butts drumming up donations, but we would like to thank Stewart's, Hannaford, Perrotta's Bakery, and Pastor Willie Bacote of The Missing Link Street Ministry for their contributions. We'd also like to thank the Troy chapter of the Hells Angels for the dunking booth, Troy Rehabilitation and Improvement Program for the bounce house, and Latham Home Depot for charcoal and other items.
Although we will have plenty of fun at the park for the kids, there will also be information from a variety of community resources. The Troy Police Department's Mobile Command Center will also be there again, and this year the Rensselaer County Sheriff will have an information table set up as part of Operation Safe Child, a program designed to record ID information critical to expediting the return of a missing child.
I hope every one of you attends a NNO event this year. If there isn't one in your neighborhood, I hope that some of you venture over to our event at the park.
Last week, Kevin Marshall wrote a post on the perception of poverty and referred to North Central as Troy's forgotten city, largely unseen by those whose voices carry furthest in local media. I would be honored if you took this opportunity to visit North Central.
Kim loves Troy even more than you do.
The schedule for Albany's National Night Out activities:
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