Taking a night out to knockout crime

Published 5:28 pm Wednesday, August 8, 2007

By Staff
Police, others work with neighborhoods in fight against crime
Staff Writer
Some Washington residents continually struggle to make their neighborhoods safe from crime and other dangers.
Mark Recko, executive director of the Washington Housing Authority and Mid-East Regional Housing Authority, is convinced that unsafe neighborhoods affect everyone in Washington.
National Night Out is sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch. Its purpose is to help prevent crime through awareness.
The event was held at Beebe Memorial Park on West 11th Street in Washington. Free food, music and other activities were part of the evening, as was information from area law-enforcement agencies and emergency responders.
Lynn Alligood, administrative assistant with the Washington and regional housing authorities, estimated 200 people attended the event.
Children lined up to get their face or hands painted by Bubbles the Clown and to dunk the city’s police chief, Mick Reed, or fire chief, Jimmy Davis, into a tank of water that was part of a dunking booth.
Reed said National Night Out is an opportunity to “come together in a nonconfrontational environment.”
Along with police, deputies with the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office attended the event. Deputy Michael Harris said, “We’re here to let the public know we’re here to help and to build a good relationship with the public.”
Recko said the effort “goes on all year long” with the help of residents and police.
The Oak Crest housing development is adjacent to Beebe Memorial Park. Residents there have started a community initiative, Recko said.
Recko said residents are starting an after-school mentoring program, locating it in one of the development’s vacant apartments.
Bishop Samuel Jones Jr., founder of the Purpose of God Annex in Washington, works with the housing authority to provide educational and guidance programs to some of its clients.
Recko said, “Something is going to happen in these neighborhoods. We want it to be positive.”
Recko said parents living in these areas “don’t feel safe letting their children play outside, and until they come to me and tell me differently, we are going to keep working on it.”
He believes the effort will work