Take a ‘Night Out’ against crime
Published 12:44 am Thursday, August 4, 2011
Washington’s observance of National Night Out is more than just an enhanced summer picnic, according to one of the event’s organizers and supporters.
It’s an opportunity, said April Corbett, coordinator of the Washington Police Department’s Project Next Step, for residents of Washington’s communities to send this message to criminals: “We are together to take back our communities.”
Tuesday night’s observance at Beebe Memorial Park was the seventh-straight National Night Out observance in Washington, according to a WPD news release.
The local event is sponsored by the police department and local businesses to emphasize the need for more cooperation between police and the communities they serve in fighting crime, including illegal drugs and violence in the city. National Night Out events such as concerts, cookouts and block parties are held across the nation in an effort to increase crime and drug-prevention awareness and generate support for anti-crime programs such as Project Next Step, which works with at-risk people to help them avoid lives of crime.
“It’s more than symbolic,” WPD Chief Mick Reed said. “It’s a night we celebrate … the collaborative effort to make this a safe community.”
Reed said the event is having a positive influence in fighting crime.
“We see a big difference. The difference is because our community cares,” Reed said.
Project Next Step and National Night Out events are working, Reed said.
“Every year … we get more and more participation by businesses and different groups,” Reed noted.
At least one resident in the Beebe Memorial Park neighborhood believes National Night Out events in Washington make a difference.
“I think it’s enjoyable, I really do,” said former Washington High School basketball coach Dave Smith, who lives across the street from the park. “I think it’s a very worthwhile project. Every time I come out here, it seems to be well-received. … That’s what it’s all about — the community, the relationship between the officers and the community.”
City Council members William Pitt, Doug Mercer and Ed Moultrie attended the event, as did Beaufort County Commissioner Ed Booth. Other law-enforcement agencies represented at the event included the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office and the N.C. Highway Patrol. The Washington Housing Authority and the Mid-East Regional Housing Authority provided personnel to help staff the event. The Washington Fire-Rescue-EMS Department, other agencies and several nonprofit groups had a presence at the event.