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Party to promote National Night Out importance

By Bianca Montes
Sept. 25, 2013 at 4:25 a.m.


National night out

• WHAT: Kickoff party

• WHEN: Noon-3 p.m. Saturday

• WHERE: Victoria Mall in front of Dillard's, 7800 N. Navarro St.

• COST: Free

• MORE INFORMATION: Victoria Police Department's Crime Prevention Unit at 361-485-3808.

Christy Hernandez said she wants to allow her daughter to ride her bicycle around the corner, but their family is new to the neighborhood, and Hernandez isn't comfortable letting her 12-year-old out of sight.

Her street is relatively safe, she said. It's a cul-de-sac, there is minimal traffic, and most of her neighbors have dogs. However, the same things that make her feel secure on her street also feed into her worries.

"A lot of people have dogs, and sometimes they get out," the mother of two said. "What about if she falls off her bike? What if another car hits her? I want to make sure my neighbors are keeping an eye on her and that they know she's from this street."

The Victoria Police Department Crime Prevention Unit is kicking off National Night Out a little early this year to inspire community members to get out and mingle with their neighbors and learn about crime prevention in the process.

The kickoff party Saturday will feature performances by area high school cheerleaders, dance clubs and an opening ceremony by the Boy Scouts. The party begins at noon and will be in front of Dillard's at the Victoria Mall, 7800 N. Navarro St.

National Night Out is designed to promote crime prevention, increase police-community partnerships and develop neighborhood camaraderie, said Victoria Police Crime Prevention Officer John Turner.

The pre-party, he said, should inspire more neighborhoods to participate in the Oct. 1 event.

"The more people on board that take an active approach to residential security will result in reducing the crime rate," Turner said. "The goal is to try to get everyone involved."

So far this year, Victoria Police Department has reported 292 burglaries, 1,281 thefts and 40 robberies, according to the year-to-date crime statistics.

In 1984, Matt Peskin, president of National Association of Town Watch, introduced the concept of National Night Out, and 2.5 million Americans took part in the event in 400 communities across 23 states, according to the association's website.

Today, more than 37 million people and 15,000 communities participate, which includes the more than 42 neighborhoods in Victoria that have signed up to host a party during National Night Out, Turner said.

During National Night Out, the Victoria Police Department, Fire Department and the fire marshal will visit neighborhoods to talk to community members about the importance of being active against crime.

"It's an opportunity for us to go out and connect with the community," said Victoria Police Chief J.J. Craig. "The ultimate goal is to improve quality of life for the neighborhoods."

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