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Partying against community crime

Tuesday is National Night Out in Juneau

Posted: Sunday, August 02, 2009

The Juneau Police Department is looking for people to party Tuesday night to help fight crime in the community.

The department is looking for "block captains" to host block parties and cookouts in neighborhoods throughout the community on Tuesday as part of the National Night Out, a nationwide event intended to strengthen police and community partnerships. It's scheduled from 7 to 10 p.m.

The annual event is in its 26th year nationally, but only its second in Juneau.

"It is a fairly new event in our town and we'd really like to see more communities get involved with it, just because (of) the different crimes that occur in the different neighborhoods," officer Jennifer Adams said. "I think if more groups of people got involved and looked into Neighborhood Watch-type programs, then maybe it would help reduce crime in Juneau."

Adams hosted a potluck-style block party in the Mendenhall Valley as part of the event last year. She said it's a good way for neighbors to get to know one another so they can look out for suspicious activity in their neighborhoods.

"It gives everybody a chance to get to know each other a little bit so if you do have strangers moving through your community, people can be aware of that," Adams said.

Officer Kathy Underwood said there were seven block parties around the community last year, and as of Friday there were seven set for Tuesday.

"It's basically a night out against crime, where neighborhoods have an opportunity to meet and greet their neighbors," she said.

Representatives from the police department, Capital City Fire and Rescue and other law agencies will visit the parties to answer questions, meet residents and discuss public safety.

"If people have concerns about car rifling or home security, we try to address those issues," Adams said. "We have officers on hand that can help with that."

McGruff the Crime Dog also will make appearances to visit kids at the block parties.

National Night Out also is intended to send a message to criminals that neighborhoods are organizing and taking action against crime.

"Mostly it's for everybody to get to know each other, kind of band together and help fight crime in their neighborhoods - really help with the crime prevention aspect," Adams said.

• Contact reporter Eric Morrison at 523-2269 or eric.morrison@juneauempire.com.



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