Police are hoping hundreds of Payson residents will gear up to take to the streets after dark during National Night Out Aug. 2, hosting outdoor block parties in their neighborhoods designed to send a message to criminals that people are fed up with crime and are fighting back.
The Payson Police Department encourages residents to turn on their porch lights, go outside and meet their neighbors between 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Crime statistics go way down when residents know their neighbors, partly because they are more apt to look out for each other and report suspicious activity, authorities say.
“We hope neighbors get together and socialize,” said Kim Becker, NNO organizer and executive assistant with the PPD. “We need community participation in this event.”
Last year, a storm washed out NNO, devastating organizers who had planned months in advance for the event. In 2008, the first year the town participated, the National Association of Town Watch (NATW) recognized the PPD with a national award for its participation in the drug and violence prevention program. The town was recognized again in 2009.
This year, Becker hopes to see the town win another award.
Police Chief Don Engler said there are many reasons to host a block party, including increasing the sense of belonging among neighbors, starting a new neighborhood tradition, having fun and most importantly, sending a strong message of unity to criminals.
“You don’t have to live in a neighborhood of single family homes to be involved in a block party,” he said. “Block parties can happen everywhere — townhome complexes, apartment buildings or mobile home parks.”
The PPD will send a video team to several block parties to document their participation. Becker will send this video into the NNO competition.
Interested residents are asked to fill out a registration form and contact the PPD at (928) 474-5242 ext. 220 or e-mail Charlene Brown at cbrown@ paysonaz.gov.
Besides the neighborhood-sponsored block parties, the PPD is hosting a NNO family fun day at Green Valley Park.
From noon to 8 p.m., Saturday, July 30, residents can get free safety information, watch the entertaining police vs. firefighters relay and take in a few concerts. Organizers will also have a jousting game set up, a slide and obstacle course.
“We hope to get the community there, learn about NNO on Aug. 2 and then get their neighbors together and go out and do it,” Becker said.
Musical acts include DJ Johnny Vela, Junction 87, local country singer Bill Camp and soft rock Valley band the Technicolors.
The PPD will also be collecting new and gently used clothing at the family fun day. All donations will be given to local charities. Pros Fore Clothes Foundation (PFCF) is sponsoring the collection drive.
PFCF’s goal is to donate more than a million pounds of clothing to people in need. To date, PFCF has donated more than 6,500 pounds of clothing.
The event is free and open to everyone.