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Communities register for night out

National Night Out 2009 is officially on its way.

The Suffolk National Night Out committee held a community kickoff event on Thursday evening to register communities, provide information and give community sponsors supplies they can use to put on the party, set for Aug. 4.

“National Night Out is about forming friendships,” said Diana Klink, a member of the National Night Out committee.

National Night Out is a crime-, drug- and gang-prevention event involving citizens, law enforcement agencies, civic groups, businesses, neighborhood organizations, fire departments and local officials. It is designed to heighten crime- and drug-prevention awareness, generate support for anti-crime programs, strengthen police and community partnerships, and send a message to criminals letting them know that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.

People who have coordinated National Night Out celebrations in their neighborhoods in years past shared their experiences in getting their communities together – and why they did it.

“Bring your community together,” said Carol Warren, who has coordinated the celebration in the Holland community. “Get businesses, get people, get the word out.”

Warren said Holland hopes to step up its efforts this year because of numerous burglaries that have plagued the area in the past year.

“We need to make neighbors aware of these,” she said. “That’s what we’re here to do.”

Donna Perry, who coordinates the party in her Kingsboro neighborhood, also spoke about why she volunteers to help organize Kingsboro’s activities.

“The local law enforcement officers depend on the community to succeed,” Perry said. “Unfortunately, the Suffolk Police Department isn’t growing as fast as our city — that’s why it’s so important.”

Suffolk Police Capt. Todd Rittenhouse also spoke, relating two stories about alert citizens who helped police catch criminals.

After the program, more than a dozen community coordinators registered their neighborhoods for the National Night Out finale on Aug. 4. Events throughout the summer, including a TGIF duck race, will lead up to the party.