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Louisiana Police Chief Rich Hughes was trying to bolster National Night Out from 7-10 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 5 and the Neighborhood Watch program in the weeks before he died.
Hughes said the effort with the Louisiana Chamber of Commerce Community Betterment Committee was designed to create tighter neighborhoods and boost crime prevention in his last interview with the Louisiana Press-Journal.
“Officers come around to block party locations and tell citizens what’s going on in the city and about Neighborhood Watch,” Hughes said. “It’s a battle against crime.”
Those wanting to host a National Night Out block party can fill out requests for a street closure for Aug. 5 at the police department inside city hall, Hughes said. The deadline to register that form and another to register for the event is Thursday, July 31.
Others not hosting or attending block parties can turn on their outside lights that evening to show their support, Hughes added.
Communities all over the United States, Canada and U.S. military bases will participate.
The parties can be “simple or elaborate,” Hughes said. “There can be games, food and drinks or just conversation.”
Community Betterment Committee co-chairman, the Rev. Randall Cone, said at a recent city council meeting that he and co-chair Paulette Powelson “wish to encourage more participation this year,” in National Night Out.
“We have had neighborhood gatherings over the years at Eighth and North Carolina streets, Daybreak Donuts and other locations, Cone said.
Along with police, fire, ambulance and city officials will also attend the gatherings, Cone said.
“The gatherings foster strong neighborhood ties and encourage commitment to the Neighborhood Watch Program,” Hughes said.”
Neighborhood Watch programs were established by the National Sheriffs’ Association in 1972 to combat rising crime in the United States.
The program is patterned after colonial days when night watchmen patrolled the streets, according to the National Crime Prevention Council, (NCPC).
The new program asks the community to be the eyes and ears for law enforcement and to report anything suspicious in the neighborhoods. It does not ask citizens to intervene in crimes or to take a vigilante attitude toward them.
“Neighborhood Watch works because it reduces opportunities for crime to occur,” the NCSP said. “It doesn’t rely on altering or changing the criminal’s behavior or motivation.”