Knocking out neighborhood crime, one party at a time
Last year, more than 200 Georgetown residents gathered at the Legacy Hills clubhouse to meet local police officers, promote crime prevention, and strengthen ties between police and the community. The festivities included food, laughter, educational opportunities, and many inquiries from residents about why they were issued such-and-such a citation.
“It’s a great way for officers to interact with a lot more people than they would on a day-to-day basis,” says Delta Jolly, Community Engagement Officer at the Georgetown Police Department. “When I was on patrol, a lot of my job consisted of the crime and law enforcement aspect. National Night Out gives me an opportunity to be approachable and to discuss any questions or problems citizens may have—no matter how big or small.”
National Night Out was established at a national level in 1984, when the National Organization of Town Watch spearheaded the effort to let criminals know that neighbors had each other’s backs and wouldn’t allow crime to creep into their neighborhoods. Since then, the event has grown to include participation from more than 16,000 communities, including Georgetown.
“Unfortunately, with the current state of affairs, there’s not a lot of love going around to officers,” notes Officer Jolly. “Here in Georgetown, we are fortunate to have a very supportive community, but we can always try to build better bridges, and this is one of the ways that we do it.”
National Night Out gives police officers an opportunity to get the word out about different programs the Georgetown Police Department offers, while enhancing the relationship between police officers and the community. Residents can apply with the Georgetown Police Department to host a party within their neighborhood, block, clubhouse, or apartment complex.
Often, a National Night Out party will include a neighborhood potluck; education on different first responders’ roles; an opportunity for citizens to tour police cars, fire trucks, and ambulances; and ample opportunities for residents to meet Georgetown police officers and socialize with their neighbors.
Last year, Georgetown put on 45 National Night Out parties, hosting about 3,000 attendees. The goal this year is to increase those numbers—parties and people—by 10 percent.
“Suddenly, when neighborhoods begin to talk to each other, they start to look out for each other a heck of a lot more, and they’re far quicker to pick up the phone if there’s someone in their neighborhood that shouldn’t be there, or somebody in their neighbor’s home that shouldn’t be there,” says Mel Schuette, National Night Out volunteer coordinator and assistant to Officer Jolly. “It’s an intangible benefit, but I think that’s one of the things that help us keep the crime rate as low as it is here in Georgetown.”
National Night Out takes place Tuesday, October 4, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. For more information, see pd.georgetown.org/files/2015/10/National-Night-Out.pdf and natw.org.