National Night Out
Get to Know Your Neighbors
National Night Out is an annual event hosted by the National Association of Town Watch and occurs the first Tuesday in October this year. The Plano Police Department participates in National Night Out and is proud of the commitment our community has to this program.
The primary purpose of National Night Out is to get neighbors to leave their front porch lights on, showing their support with their local police departments in the fight against crime. Neighbors are encouraged to get out of their houses and meet other neighbors in the area and get to know them. The theory being that if neighbors meet and get to know each other, they are more apt to report suspicious activity in their neighborhood rather than “look the other way” when they see something noteworthy. When you know your neighbors and watch out for them, overall crime in the area is reduced.
Having a block party is the major source getting the neighbors together in Plano. Many times an entire neighborhood turns out for BBQ, hamburgers, hot dogs, watermelon, and dessert feasts. Activities often include bounce houses, basketball games, face painting, and door prize drawings. The method of hosting the activities and social gatherings are decided by each individual neighborhood.
Another great way to get neighbors together is to contact the Crime Prevention Unit to present educational programs. Presentations can be structured to cover specific topics. General programs cover burglary prevention, personal safety issues, “watch your children” presentations, and other topics aimed at making Plano a safer community. Programs can also involve question and answer sessions that cover specific topics concerning the neighborhood. Presentations are limited to 15 minutes due to scheduling constraints. If time runs out and there are questions remaining from the audience, followup with the Crime Prevention Unit is encouraged.
Police Department's Role
The Plano Police Department tries to cover as many block parties as possible in the time limit given. Although the Crime Prevention Unit is responsible for coordinating National Night Out, assistance from our Patrol Officers is critical. Patrol Officers are encouraged to attend as many parties as their call load will allow. Neighbors are very interested in meeting the Patrol Officer who is assigned in their area. This also puts a “face” on the department and allows citizens to interact with "their" Officer.
In Crime Prevention, there are usually two people assigned to each squad car, an officer, and a Public Safety Officer (PSO) from the Crime Prevention Unit. As the officer does the primary talking, the PSO shows the children the squad car, hands out sticker badges, etc. Block parties and activities usually begin at 6 p.m. and go until 10 p.m. Neighbors usually call months in advance to ensure a slot to have the Department attend their party.
National Night Out is one of the high points of the year for Crime Prevention. Officers look forward to seeing old friends and making new ones as well.
For information on organizing a National Night Out party in your neighborhood, contact the Crime Prevention Unit at 972-941-2431.