Charlie Esco, member of Sweet Union Baptist Church, is working on the details for a community-wide gathering. She said dancers, singers, speakers, games and food are being arranged but the underlying message is to bring awareness to community members.
Police officials and neighborhoods are preparing for a state-wide event aimed at raising awareness of crimes and the importance of neighborhood watch groups.
“Texans Against Crime” is officially slated on Tuesday, Oct. 9, but the Jacksonville Police Department will be hosting an informal planning session at 6 p.m. Thursday in the Police Department's training room.
Crime Prevention Officer Det. Tonya Harris said the meeting will serve as a brainstorming session for anyone interested in hosting a block party. She said the objective of the event is for neighbors to gather together in an informational setting to meet, greet and discuss how to make their neighborhood safer.
The event is modeled after “National Night Out,” a nation-wide event with the same objective.
Esco said she has been involved with the event for over 10 years.
“Everybody gets involved,” Esco said. “It's an overall effort from everybody. We started out pretty small but we have been growing every year.”
Harris said the actual event varies from group to group. Some have ice cream socials, others eat hamburgers and hotdogs, Mexican food, or get together to play games.
“It's just neighbors watching out for neighbors and being the eyes and ears for the police,” Harris said.
Esco said her church's theme this year is “community in unity.” She said organizers try to bring in different speakers each year, and this year speakers are lined up to talk about bullying and abuse.
“We have good attendance,” Esco said. “It's something that our seniors enjoy, getting out and conversing with one another and the different information we share with them. We try to keep them abreast to what is going on and the safety issues.”
Residents can also schedule the police or fire department to show up at an event to talk to children about safety and when it is appropriate to dial 911. Harris said a neighborhood can call the police department to schedule any city official they want to talk to, from the street supervisor to a representative from Child Protective Services.
Esco said the fire and police departments come each year.
“Everytime you see (a police officer or firefighter) it's not always something bad going on,” she said. “They are your friend, and you need to be able to know who they are.”
Harris said she hopes the event will spawn more community watch groups. She said the department has bilingual neighborhood watch signs, which can be purchased and installed for around $70.
“We don't have enough officers to be everywhere at any one time, and with having the neighborhood watches is just that … but we don't want any vigilantes,” Harris said. “We don't want anyone to get hurt, and the most important thing is picking up the phone when to call us when you see someone trying to break into a car or home.”
Prizes for best attendance, best youth involvement, best theme and best entertainment will be awarded by the Department.
Spelling bee rallies community for Literacy Council
How do you spell "oops?"Continued ...
Good thing a little misstep by judges at the 19th annual Jacksonville Literacy Council's Corporate Spelling Bee Wednesday didn't change the ultimate outcome of the event.
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