(UPDATED 8/3/17) National Night Out has been held annually since 1984. The community awareness event was the brainchild of the Executive Director of the National Association of Town Watch.
According to the National Night Out website, the first National Night Out involved 2.5 million residents across 400 communities in 23 states. As of 2016 National Night Out has grown to include more than 38 million residents in 23,000 communities across the United States.
The purpose of National Night Out is to increase awareness about police programs in communities such as drug prevention, town watch, neighborhood watch, and other anti-crime efforts. National Night Out events range from neighborhood cookouts to large festivals with music, food and entertainment.
The City of Sacramento National Night Out website has lots of great information if you want to put on a full blown National Night Out event.
In my neighborhood our end of the block celebrates National Night Out by getting together for a potluck cookout in the front yard of a neighbor on the corner. We do not register our get-together as a National Night Out event as it is strictly a social affair but it does serve an important purpose – getting to know our neighbors better. National Night Out is also a great way for folks new to the neighborhood to meet their neighbors.
Knowing your neighbors is the first step, in my mind, to making the neighborhood safer. Having a dog that I frequently walk is also a great way to meet people in the neighborhood.
While I was checking out the National Night Out website I noticed information about an ancillary program – Dog Walker Watch. According to the Humane Society of the United States and the ASPCA there are over 75 million dog owners across the nation. Dog Walker Watch encourages these neighbors to assist local law enforcement as extra eyes and ears while out walking their dog(s). This sounds like a great idea to me – and it is something that could really help reduce crime in our Sacramento neighborhoods!
I made an inquiry to 311 to ask if the Sacramento Police Department has a Dog Walker Watch program that helps dog walkers be more aware of their surroundings and learn how to effectively observe and report suspicious activity. The answer was no – no such program. So, I sent an inquiry to Council Member Jeff Harris asking if he thought this was something he might pursue. I will update this post to share his response.
(UPDATED 8/3/17) I received a response from a staff member in the office of Council Member Harris. He has referred my inquiry to a Community Service Officer (CSO) with the Sacramento Police Department who coordinates neighborhood watch training, among other things. He inquired as to whether Dog Walker Watch is something that can be incorporated into neighborhood watch training. Stay tuned.
Does your street/neighborhood celebrate National Night Out? Is your celebration more laid back – like ours – or does your neighborhood go all out?
If you are a dog walker – would you be interested in receiving some training and participating in a Dog Walker Watch program if one were established in Sacramento?
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