Preparing for a ‘Night Out’

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 12, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

One of Suffolk’s biggest parties is about to go down – and the police won’t be crashing it.

In fact, they, along with residents, will be the guests of honor.

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Don’t be surprised to see some of the men and women in blue grooving to the Electric Slide and feasting on the best in southern grilled delights.

Suffolk’s version of National Night Out (NNO) is scheduled for Aug. 3 when neighborhoods enjoy a continuous stream of block parties. Nationwide for the 21st year, numerous events are planned to send a powerful message about community unity, awareness, safety, and police-community partnerships.

In past years, Suffolk’s NNO events have earned the city national recognition among other cities with populations 30,000 to 99,000. This year’s goal is to bring the honor home again.

Suffolk’s 2004 theme is &uot;In the business of crime prevention.&uot;

Capitalizing on the role businesses have traditionally played in crime prevention, NNO has coordinated with several downtown businesses to participate in a citywide sidewalk sale from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, July 17. These merchants will be displaying entries from the NNO coloring and poster contest. Awards will be donated by the businesses.

Also on that date, at Farm Fresh, the Suffolk Police Department’s K-9 Unit will be on hand, along a police motorcycle demonstration. Officers from Chesapeake, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Isle of Wight, Portsmouth and Newport News will be there showing off their wheels.

Later that day, a flashlight vigil will begin at the Birdsong Recreation Center on North Main Street.

Another pre-NNO event, the Suffolk C.A.R.E. Fair, is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sat., July 31 at King’s Fork Middle School. The fair will focus on health and safety issues, and provide NNO information.

Children can be photographed on an official Suffolk Police motorcycle, and Child-Ident-A-Kid packets will be made available to parents.

On Aug. 3, local city officials traditionally tour the city visiting neighborhoods, stopping in on the parties enjoying cookouts, sports, and other social events. NNO is scheduled from 7-10 p.m.

Another feature of this year’s project is the &uot;Neighborhood Expo Contest.&uot; Judges from the business community will tour participating neighborhoods and rate them based on involvement, attendance, decorations, and crime prevention activities.

The winning community will gain &uot;bragging rights,&uot; according to NNO planners.

Suffolk Police Officer D.A. Benavidez is the 2004 NNO organizer. During her first go-around, she’s found the job demanding, but &uot;very interesting,&uot; she said. &uot;I get to meet a lot of citizens and become more familiar with Suffolk.&uot;

For more information about getting involved with NNO, call 923-4744.