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National Night Out kickoff party planned for Saturday

By LESLIE WILBER
Oct. 8, 2009 at 5:08 a.m.


IF YOU GO

The Victoria Police Department is host to a National Night Out kick-off party from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, at the Victoria Mall, in front of Dillard's.

Saturday's kick-off party will include:

Booths with information from regional law enforcement, military and paramedics

Snacks

Music and demonstrations

A chance to sign up to host a National Night Out party

The National Night Out program encourages neighborhoods to host block parties, to get to know each other, get involved with Neighborhood Watch and prevent crime, Officer Chris Guerra said. Law enforcement officers and firefighters stop by the parties to meet the residents.

To sign up to host a party, call Sgt. Felix Appelt at 361- 485-3808.

After only one year, some Windcrest Three residents have noticed the difference Neighborhood Watch has made.

When police were looking for a man they suspected of an assault, Darwin C. Browning and his wife initiated the Neighborhood Watch phone tree.

"Within minutes, the whole neighborhood was aware something was not right with the neighborhood," Browning said.

Browning, 67, helped form a watch in his neighborhood after last year's National Night Out.

"It's a great opportunity for neighbors to get together and know each other," Browning said.

The parties - scheduled for Tuesday - help neighbors meet and generate or sustain interest in the Neighborhood Watch program, said Officer Chris Guerra, with the crime prevention unit. The Victoria Police Department will conduct a kick-off party from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Victoria Mall.

"Neighborhood Watch is proven to be very successful," Guerra said.

The watch has perks besides more vigilant and connected neighbors, Guerra said. For example, participating neighborhoods must have two meetings with crime prevention officers a year. Those meetings can include bringing activities like child fingerprinting or VIN etching into the neighborhoods.

"These should be the most educated people in the city," when it comes to crime prevention, Guerra said.

Other neighbors around town hope this year's National Night Out will bring Neighborhood Watch to their streets.

"We're really looking forward to it," said Pat DeDear, who lives near the intersection of Milam and Mistletoe Avenues. "Just getting to know each other, being aware of our surroundings."

The neighborhood has never had a watch before, nor a National Night Out block party. But DeDear, 62, was talking with a neighbor recently and discovered they both had always wanted to have such a party on their street.

They're expecting a crowd, with games for kids and music.

Russell Drane, 68, who lives in Castle Hills West, saw a similar need for unity in his community.

Drane learned about the program through the Civilian Police Academy Alumni Association, where he volunteers.

"I thought our neighborhood needed to get together," he said. "When everybody in the neighborhood knows everyone else, you get to know what cars they drive. Their habits. When something is out of sync with that, you pick up on it."

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