Police, towns join anti-crime night

Parades, parties planned as part of national effort to foster community spirit

August 02, 1999|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

State and local police are urging Carroll County residents to join their neighbors tomorrow in celebrating the 16th annual "National Night Out."

The anti-crime festivities will kick off at 6 p.m. in Westminster and New Windsor, where residents are asked to turn on outside lights, lock their doors and spend the evening outdoors with friends and neighbors.

Started in 1984, the program is designed to increase awareness of crime and drug prevention, generate support for and participation in local anti-crime efforts, strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community relations, and send a message to criminals that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.

Neighborhoods in Westminster are planning various events, including block parties, cookouts, sidewalk parades, police visits and flashlight walks between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m.

State police from the Westminster barracks plan to drive into New Windsor at 6 p.m. and help with a parade. The parade starts at 7 p.m. and will wind through town to the carnival grounds, where Col. David B. Mitchell, Maryland State Police superintendent, is expected to join County Commissioner Julia Walsh Gouge for brief remarks, said Mayor Jack A. Gullo Jr.

"After that, we'll have country music, lots of food, police dog demonstrations and lots of fun," Gullo said.

A state police helicopter, McGruff the crime dog and antique and modern police vehicles will be on display.

Similar state police events are planned in Calvert, Cecil, Kent, and Queen Anne's counties.

Mitchell, an advocate of cooperative community and police programs, said he believes united awareness efforts such as National Night Out are important in helping reduce crime.

Crime rates in Maryland have declined three straight years and have continued to drop this year, Mitchell said.

According to statistics compiled in the latest Maryland State Police Uniform Crime Report, statewide crime fell 5 percent in 1998 compared with 1997 figures.

However, crime in Carroll County was up 4.5 percent in 1998 from the previous year, with the greatest increase occurring in property crimes such as larceny theft, breaking and entering, and motor vehicle theft.

Police officials say they rely on community watch programs in which neighbors looking out for each other quickly report suspicious activity.

They count on National Night Out to foster that community spirit.

Co-sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch and by law enforcement agencies in the United States, its territories and military bases and in Canadian cities, the program involves more than 26 million people from about 8,700 communities, police officials estimate.

Pub Date: 8/02/99

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