Town pulls out all the stops for National Night Out
PRESCOTT VALLEY - The lights are on and someone's home.
National Night Out is a unique crime/drug prevention event to alert people to crime and encourage them to watch out for their neighbors, according to nationaltownwatch.org.
Now in its 24th year, NNO is recognized by more than 10,000 communities from all 50 states, U.S. territories, Canadian cities and military bases worldwide. In 2006, more than 34 million people participated.
"It has gotten to be huge over the years and we have people who have had block watches in the neighborhood from the very beginning," said Steve Skurja, crime prevention specialist for the Prescott Police Department. "We recognize this evening on a Tuesday because most people are home. The whole idea is to go outside with your neighbors. The better you know your neighbors, the better you know your neighborhood and the better you can protect your
He suggested turning on outside lights, taking sidewalk strolls and having block parties.
In Prescott, between 20 and 25 groups had parties in their neighborhoods to recognize the event.
"We had officers, the chief, administrative people and the Prescott Fire Department all mingling and sitting down to eat," Skurja said. "It was a great opportunity to ask questions - that's what the whole evening is about."
Prescott mandates at least one block watch meeting each year to keep neighbors in touch and make an effort to take care of the neighborhood. Those who have their annual meeting on NNO have the advantage of meeting with a variety of police and fire personnel.
"It's just on this night that they can get this kind of fanfare," he said.
Skurja said that some groups specialize in homemade pizza, grilled chicken and barbecue sandwiches.
"One group has ice cream so officers make that their last stop for desert," he said. "These are all good groups and they really appreciate public safety people."
"I have to brag on Prescott Valley because we have 87 different groups participating for NNO up from 70 last year," said Jennifer Miller, DARE officer and crime prevention coordinator for Prescott Valley Police Department. "Several of these gatherings attract 100 to 200 people. We like to take this night to mingle, socialize, meet new neighbors and catch up with old neighbors. It is a nice time to celebrate crime prevention while building a strong relationship with our police and fire."
Prescott Valley NNO also attracts PVPD's canine units and civilian personnel, Mayor Harvey Skoog, town council members, Town Manager Larry Tarkowski, and people from the town's community development and code enforcement offices.
"We're also promoted our graffiti busters," Miller said. "This night was a launching pad for a lot of neat things."
Miller's plan is to nominate Prescott Valley for the NNO national award this year.
"I submitted us in 2002 and we came in 17th in the entire nation for cities and towns our size," she said. "I wanted to wait for us to have a fresh perspective. The NNO headquarters is in Pennsylvania where they don't get to see the fine things we have in Arizona."
Chino Valley police are not participating in NNO this year.
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