Get involved with neighbors

Published 10:06 pm Thursday, July 17, 2014

New signs that will be put up soon in the West End and Lakeside neighborhoods have a pretty straightforward message: Crime and criminals aren’t welcome.

The blue, white and black signs with a graphic depicting the large, communal eye residents are keeping on their streets will be enough, they hope, to make those hoping to cause mischief turn around.

James Strickland, president of the neighborhoods’ combined civic league, told me last week that local residents decided to be proactive about a few minor crimes that had happened in their area, rather than just sit and complain about what was happening all around them.

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Members of the civic league have done the legwork to get folks involved. Practically everybody in the neighborhoods has agreed to participate in some way, whether through running the phone tree and Facebook page or simply keeping watch on the area and committing to alert their neighbors to any issues.

“Crooks don’t like visibility,” Strickland told me. “I want them to say, ‘I couldn’t walk 10 feet into the West End neighborhood before somebody was ratting on me.’”

Perhaps the word will spread among the criminal element.

The civic league plans an official unveiling of the signs during its National Night Out program on Aug. 5. The Neighborhood Watch and reconstituted civic league actually are products of the increased community involvement fostered by previous National Night Out events, Strickland said, making it quite appropriate that the signs be unveiled at this year’s event.

National Night Out is a nationwide program that encourages partnerships among members of the community and between the community and its public safety officers. Most neighborhoods have activities like cookouts, children’s games, musical entertainment and more to get folks to turn on their porch lights, lock their doors, get outside and meet their neighbors.

In a time when many people are more likely to be Facebook friends with their brother’s ex-girlfriend’s mother who lives three states away or to follow hundreds of celebrities on Twitter than to actually know the names of the people who live right beside them, National Night Out is an excellent tool to get people engaged with the people on their block, their street and their neighborhood, rather than just what’s happening on social media.

Suffolk has been heavily involved in National Night Out for many years, and its residents do an excellent job boosting the effort. Make yourself one of them this year.

To find out if your area is having a party, visit