State and local police are inviting Carroll County residents to join tonight in a national anti-crime celebration.
Festivities will begin at 6 pm. in Sykesville and Westminster, where residents are asked to turn on out-side lights, lock their doors and spend the evening outdoors with neighbors to celebrate the 17th annual "National Night Out."
"We're celebrating the fact that we have a very low crime rate," said Lt. Terry Katz of the Maryland State Police, who noted an 8 percent drop in thefts the first six months of the year. "They'll be food, music and lots of fun."
Started in 1984, the program is designed to increase awareness of crime and drug prevention activities, garner support for anti-crime efforts, foster community spirit and improve police-community relations, and send a message to criminals that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.
Neighborhoods in Westminster are planning several events, including block parties, cookouts and police visits at:
Bishop Garth apartments in the 100 block of Charles St.
Eagleview, in the open space on Tahoma Farm near Litchfield Circle
Furnace Hills, in the South Hills Court parking lot
Green's of Westminster at Royer Road and Stacey Lee Street
Union National Bank in the 100 block of E. Main St.
More than 500 people are expected to join the celebration in Sykesville, at Burkett Park on Norris Avenue off Obrecht Road.
Children will be invited to play games, and a free cookout will be held.
A state police helicopter and McGruff the crime dog will be on hand.
Col. David B. Mitchell, superintendent of Maryland State Police, and Wallace P. Mitchell, Sykesville police chief and president of the Maryland Chiefs of Police Association, will lead the festivities.
"It's a great networking opportunity for the police agencies that are involved," said the Sykesville police chief.
"It's a way for us to thank the citizens for their support throughout the year, and have a fun night out with them."
Co-sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch and by, law enforcement agencies in the United States and its territories and by military bases in Canadian cities, the program involves more than 26 million people from about 8,700 communities.