Neighborhood Anti-Crime Block Party Planned

Payson police, other agencies will help organize events to encourage neighbors to look out for one another

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How well do you know your neighbor? Can she trust you to keep a wary eye for threats or suspicious acts in your neighborhood?

If not, the Payson Police Department (PPD) hopes to fix that by participating for the first time in the National Night Out (NNO). On Aug. 5, organizers hope neighborhoods will fight crime with block parties and cook-outs from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on a Tuesday night.

"We're asking Payson neighborhoods to go outside, lock your front door, turn an outside light on, just visit and get to know your neighbors. People tend to watch other people's homes when they know who they are," said Kim Becker, Payson Police executive assistant and chairman of Program for Payson NNO.

If a neighborhood requests it, officers can stop by for a visit.

The National Night Out is a nonprofit crime/drug prevention organization introduced in 1984 by Matt Peskins, executive director for the National Association of Town Watch (NATW). The organization will celebrate its 25th anniversary Aug. 5, which will also mark Payson's first year in the program.

NNO's focus is to:

  • Heighten crime and drug prevention awareness;
  • Generate support for, and participation in, local anticrime programs;
  • Strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships;
  • Convince criminals that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.

Last year's National Night Out campaign involved citizens, law enforcement agencies, civic groups, businesses, neighborhood organizations and local officials from more than 10,000 communities in all 50 states, U.S. territories, Canadian cities and military bases worldwide. More than 34 million people participated in National Night Out 2007.

To get the anti-crime block party started, Payson PD will host a free family westernthemed day of fun and activities from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 2 at Green Valley Park.

The day will feature multiple events including live music, youth games, entertainment, prize-winning contests and crime and drug prevention information. No fees are required for games or the chili cook-off entry, however, bring money for food and drinks. Local non-profit organizations will be selling food, snacks and drinks.

Entries needed for Chili Cook-off

The deadline for the Chili Cook-off is July 30 and limited to 20 entries. Entry forms for the Chili Cook-off are available at the Payson Police Department.

Some events and games to be featured are Dunk Tank, Kids Toy Walk, Police vs Firefighters Tricycle Relay Race, Kids Bounce Houses, Climbing Wall, Poster Contest, Diaper Derby, Police vs. Firefighters Tug of War, Kids fishing booth and more.

Sponsors include Messinger Payson Funeral Home, Crabtree and Associates, Walgreens, Wells Fargo, Safeway, Gila County Attorney's Office and KRIM. Entertainment includes Junction 87 and several other bands.

Special appearances will include Smokey Bear, Daren the Lion, McGruff the Crime Dog, and Marty "Meth is Death" Beaver.

"Lots of different agencies will be involved, because it's a law enforcement and community partnership. Law enforcement will be there not to enforce (the law) but to visit with the community, so the public can ask questions," said Becker.

Law enforcement agencies participating will include the Arizona Department of Public Service (DPS), Gila County Sherrif's Office and Forest Service. Game and Fish personnel will be present, and numerous information booths will be available for the town's various programs.

"We (PPD) can't do this alone. The rest is up to the community," said Irma Bramlet, with the Payson Police Department.

All nonprofit organizations are invited to reserve a booth spot in advance, free of charge, and must adhere to health regulations for distribution of food or drinks. For further information regarding participation, contact Payson Police Department: (928) 474-5242, ext. 209 for Kim Becker or ext. 250 for Irma Bramlet.

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