Residents across the parish have begun to plan their National Night Out Against Crime parties, which take place on Oct. 16 and attempt to bring neighbors together to heighten crime and drug-prevention awareness.
The event is historically held during the first week in August, but several local parishes banded together last year and moved the event to October due to the more enjoyable weather this time of year.
Every year, between 20-25 residents host National Night Out parties in St. Charles, and the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office is asking those interested in hosting parties this year to register with them. Anyone can sign up to host a party by contacting Susie Gauthier at (985)783-1355.
That same number may also be called to find out the nearest party to your home.
On Oct. 16, homeowners, apartment dwellers and businesses are asked to lock their doors from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m., turn on their outside lights for security and spend the evening with their neighbors demonstrating solidarity against crime.
Patrolling deputies will be on hand to visit registered parties or events with glow sticks and little badges for kids. The deputies will also answer any questions residents may have. During the visits, children will be given a first-hand look at the inside of a police cruiser.
Gauthier said the main goal of the program is to get people to meet their neighbors. She said some people can live in a neighborhood for years but never get the chance to come together with nearby residents.
"If you meet your neighbors and get to know them, you are more inclined to notice anything suspicious around their homes," Gauthier said.
Because deputies visit the registered parties, Gauthier said it’s also a great time for residents to meet local law-enforcement officials.
"A lot of people don’t get the chance to visit with deputies, and this way they can meet them and become comfortable with representatives of the Sheriff’s Office," she said.
National Night Out Against Crime is designed to heighten crime and drug-prevention awareness, generate support and participation in local anti-crime efforts and strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community relations.
The local event is sponsored by Sheriff Greg Champagne in conjunction with the Sheriff’s Office.
Authorities hope that National Night Out sends a message to criminals by letting them know neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.
There will also be a Night Out Against Crime kickoff party, which will begin at 2 p.m. on Oct. 14 in Kenner at Laketown (where Williams meets Lake Pontchartrain). Admission is free and the event will feature live entertainment, children’s activities, live music, food and displays and demonstrations by law enforcement agencies.