Get Out and Meet Your Neighbors Tonight

Tuesday, Aug 3, 2010  |  Updated 1:30 PM PDT
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Get Out and Meet Your Neighbors Tonight

National Night Out raises crime prevention awareness

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Oakland residents will host 452 neighborhood parties tonight as  part of National Night Out, which is being celebrated all over the Bay Area  today.

     It's the most parties ever held in Oakland for National Night Out,  said Sandra Sanders-West, a neighborhood services coordinator for the Oakland  Police Department. Mayor Ron Dellums and Police Chief Anthony Batts will  officially kick off the event at 5 p.m. at City Hall.
   
 National Night Out aims to heighten crime and drug prevention  awareness, generate support for local anti-crime programs, build  community-police relations and send a message to criminals that neighbors are  organized against crime.
   
 Residents are encouraged to turn on their lights, lock their doors  and join neighbors outdoors to show a strong community presence.
     
Oakland in the past has limited the number of neighborhood parties  for the annual event, Sanders-West said. The cutoff was removed this year.
     
"We have quite a few large parties," she said. "There was a  specific effort to make sure people know that when neighbors know each other,  neighborhoods are safer."
   
 City Council members and representatives from the Alameda County  District Attorney's Office will join police and firefighters in visiting  several block parties.
   
 Chief Batts will make stops in areas where violence has been  especially prevalent lately but where the neighbors "are more than willing to  get together and be a community that is unified," Sanders-West said.
   
 In Richmond, a party will begin at 5 p.m. in the parking lot of  the Target store at 4500 Macdonald Ave. There will be food, games, police K-9  demonstrations, McGruff the Crime Dog and live performances by the East Bay  Center for the Performing Arts. Three caravans of police, firefighters and  city officials will visit more than 20 neighborhoods.
     
"It's a good opportunity for us to kick off our neighborhood  awareness program," Richmond police crime prevention manager Michelle Milam  said.
     
The evening is an opportunity for residents to improve quality of  the life in their neighborhoods, she added.
   
 "Some people live on the same street for years and don't even know  each other," Milam said.
   
 Other Bay Area National Night Out events include Dancing on the  Square at Courthouse Square in downtown Redwood City and a Paint-and-Plant  Party in San Francisco's Ingleside neighborhood, where police and residents  will paint over graffiti and plant shrubs at a vandalized wall at 2800  Alemany Blvd. The retaining wall is owned by the city and is a blank canvas  for vandalism, said Sgt. Jim Miller.
     
"It just cries out for graffiti," he said.
     
For a complete list of communities officially registered with  National Night Out visit http://www.nationaltownwatch.org/nno/locator.html

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