St. Charles Herald-Guide

Letís give neighborhood crime 'a night out'

By Patrick Yoes - August 2, 2006

For decades, we here in St. Charles Parish have been blessed with a quite and safe community.

Often, our problems appeared dwarfed by those of our larger neighboring parishes. In many ways, we were in a time capsule, enjoying yesterdayís sense of security in todayís setting. But unfortunately, everything changes. Our parish is growing and so to will our exposure to todayís concerns.

Last Tuesday, all across St. Charles Parish, the state, and, the nation, residents like you and I participated in a very simple one-night activity that could be a starting point for change. We slowed down just long enough to see what was around us.

Sure, it was a small step, but none the less, an important step. St. Charles Parish residents are invited to join forces with thousands of communities nationwide for the 25th Annual National Night Out Crime/Drug Prevention event.
This event was designed to heighten crime and drug prevention awareness while generating support and participation in local anti-crime efforts. While doing so, it strengthened neighborhood spirit, police-community relations and sends a message to criminals letting them know neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.

Homeowners, apartment dwellers and businesses are encouraged to turn on their exterior lights for security and spend the evening with their neighbors and police outdoors demonstrating solidarity against crime.

No big deal, right? Well, it worked. All across the nation the success of this effort is being touted. Crime dropped during this brief period in areas where the participation in this effort was highest. And all residents did was throw a party, visit their neighbors, spend the evening with their children.

So, if it is that simple, why do we only do it once a year? Now a days, we live in a fast paced times. Always on the go with never enough time to watch our kids grow up.

There is a simple message in this activity. Pay more attention to what is happening around you. Years ago when sense of community was much greater, everyone knew their neighbors. When they were home or away, they looked out for each other. We need to get back to the basics.

National Night Out is an ideal opportunity for citizens and law enforcement nationwide to form powerful partnerships in the fight for a safer America. But, there is no reason it can't happened every day of the year.