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National Night Out set for Sunday, Oct. 14 in The Woodlands

October 1, 2018

The 35th anniversary of the National Night Out, an event focused on crime prevention by encouraging neighbors to know each other, is quickly approaching.

In The Woodlands Township, the campaign has been organized yearly since 1990. This year, the township is to host the event Sunday, Oct. 14 from 3 to 6 p.m. in conjunction with the township Neighborhood Watch organization.

While the push begins a week earlier with a Community Safety Expo on Saturday, Oct. 6, scheduled from noon to 3 p.m., Marian Leck, the law enforcement services director for the township, calls the event a celebration of the community working together.

“Police cannot and should not do it alone. We have to be active in our neighborhoods, for our own safety,” Leck said.

Neighborhoods, which could be small groups of 20 to more than 200 homes, are encouraged to build community-police partnerships by gathering with their neighbors outside — formally or informally — for a party on the official night out.

Christie Taillon, a watch coordinator for the Capstone neighborhood, organizes the event for the more than 300 homes in her area.

Taillon said their party at Capstone Park will have food, games, a sidewalk chalk art competition and visits from public safety officials such as the fire department: firetrucks and ambulances included.

Because of the neighborhood watch, Taillon said they’ve been able to alert police more quickly and cohesively when there is an issue.

“The real purpose is ultimately public safety. To be able to thank the responders, and to spend some time getting to know them when there isn’t an emergency situation,” Taillon said. “Also, to get to know your neighbors and how to watch out for each other.”

Last year, The Woodlands received first place in the 100,000 to 300,000 resident category for the nationwide campaign.

They’re ramping up the charge again this year with several different elements residents can participate in.

If they register beforehand, parties can arrange for a public safety visit. Individuals from the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, Constable and Department of Public Safety offices are just a few of the entities that could drop by to chat with attendees.

Organizers will also select one party per village to participate in the “ID the Burglar” challenge. At the selected party, law enforcement will bring a “Burglar” to the party, who will walk through the crowd for about 20 seconds.

Then, a “Good Guy” will hand out descriptions sheets on which attendees have to describe what the “Burglar” looked like. The party who gives the best description then wins a prize.

Leck said that this challenge gets the attendees working together, especially in an instance where people may see things differently than others.

Other activities include charitable opportunities. Parties can collect nonperishable food items to donate to Interfaith of The Woodlands, as well as care package items for deployed troops through Operation Military Embrace.

jane.stueckemann@chron.com

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