• 66°

National Night Out August 7

FARMVILLE – The Farmville Police Department is asking residents to aid and abet the commission of a fun night out.

To be an accessory before and during the fact.

Businesses, this year, too.

If anyone asks, “Where were you on the night of August 7,” town police officers are hoping you will say, 'Helping to celebrate National Night Out.'

The 29-year old National Night Out's goal is to increase crime and drug-prevention awareness, nurture and strengthen partnerships between police and residents, and create support for anti-crime programs such as Neighborhood Watch, Crime Solvers, and Business Watch.

This summer will mark the third year in succession that Farmville police will participate in the event, all since Doug Mooney was appointed chief of the department.

The community's embrace has been quick.

Last year's event ranked 24th in the nation among National Night Out participating towns with populations of 15,000 or less.

The department, with coordination by Detective C.W. Moss, is asking neighborhoods to host block parties to bring neighbors, communities and the police department together in an atmosphere of fun, fellowship and relationship-building.

“We've had a wonderful response so far. We've got nine groups so far,” Detective Moss said in a Monday interview, “and we've still got a little less than a month to go. Last year, a couple of the groups didn't come in until the last week or so.”

The nine neighborhood groups signed up so far share something in common and Detective Moss sees that as a ringing endorsement for National Night Out.

“Right now all of them are repeat groups from last year, which that says a lot in itself that the citizens like it so much that they come back out here on a hot day in August and they put aside their plans, they get together and stand over a hot grill to have a cook-out and get all the neighbors together, to get all the neighborhoods together,” he said. “And I can't describe how good it is for us to be able to get out there with the citizens and talk to them.”

This year, however, Farmville police are hoping businesses will also host events on the first Tuesday in August.

“We'd like for businesses to join in with us. You know, just because someone doesn't live here in town they may work here in town and they may spend just as much time here as the folks that live here, if you think about it,” the Farmville police detective said.

“The folks that live here and work somewhere else, then these people that don't live here but work here they're spending about an equal amount of time here. So crime prevention would be something at the top of their list, also. They want to feel safe,” Detective Moss said, “when they come to Farmville. They would do whatever they can to help us with crime prevention. They're here, they're just as much a part of Farmville as we are and if we have any businesses in town that want to jump in, I encourage them to give me a call and let us know where they're going to be and we'll definitely get by and see them.

“It doesn't have to be anything huge,” he said to those who haven't participated before and wonder what needs to be done. “Once again…a small cook-out or something…or light refreshments, that right there means a lot to us and we'll definitely get by and see them.”

That's the point: police officers and the community members they protect get to meet and speak in an easy, relaxed atmosphere. Those relationships can help effective crime prevention.

“A lot times, and I've said this in the past, the folks, they may not call down here (to the police department) if they have a question, unless it's something serious, but when they see you there,” he said of the National Night Out neighborhood events, “they'll come over to you and say, 'Hey, can you tell me this? Can you tell me that?' Or either they'll just come over to you and tell you, 'Good job' and that means a lot to us.”

Though the Town of Farmville had never participated in National Night Out until two years ago, the fledgling effort is scoring national attention.

“Last year, the Town of Farmville was ranked 24th in the nation amongst towns with a population of 15,000 or less for their participation in National Night Out, and that says a lot,” the detective explained, “because I prepared a report after National Night Out was over last year, and sent it in and the folks at the (national level) look at all the reports to see what towns and counties and cities are doing and for them to look at what we did and say 'Hey, that ranks right up there with the top,' that says a lot.”

Anyone interested in helping to put together an event-a neighborhood cook-out, for example-can contact the Farmville Police Department at 392-9259 or Detective Moss at 392-2109. Most of the events will be held between 5 and 10 p.m., but one will begin in the early afternoon. The schedule is whatever the neighborhood wants.

“If you look at what some of the groups are doing, they're putting an enormous amount of time and effort into it: bounce houses for the kids and bringing out big fish friers and cooking fish,” Detective Moss enthused, “and they've got back-to-school materials for the kids. That tells me it's something that they like also.”

Because the police officers like it, too.

“We're looking forward to it. It's always a fun time for us,” he said. “I've talked to some of the other officers and they're excited about it also.”

But the detective isn't searching for clues as to the reason for the event's success.

“We wouldn't be successful,” Detective Moss said, “if it wasn't for the citizens that are saying, 'This is what I want where I live and this is what we're going to do to make it a fun night.'”