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Residents planning parties for ‘Night Out Against Crime’

LEONARD GRAY / L’Observateur / July 27, 1998

LAPLACE – Plans are under way in St. John the Baptist Parish for the Aug.4 National Night Out Against Crime, being coordinated through local lawenforcement agencies.Some parties will begin as early at 5 p.m. and last until at least 9 p.m.Residential neighborhood groups throughout St. Charles and St. Johnparishes will host block parties, get acquainted with their neighbors andsend a message to the criminal element to keep away.National Night Out is designed to heighten crime and drug preventionawareness, generate support and participation in local anti-crime efforts,strengthen neighborhood spirit and police/community relations and send amessage to criminals that neighbors are organizing and fighting backagainst crime.At a planning meeting held July 22 at the St. John Sheriff’s Office Divisionbuilding, a panel of citizens prepared their parties – everything from discjockeys to clowns to pony rides, all in an effort to enlighten theirneighborhoods against the intrusion of crime.”People make many unofficial parties that night,” Lt. Gregory “Za” Maurin,director of community relations, commented at the meeting he chaired.At the planning meeting, people either shared ideas or related whathappened in past years.”Last year we had barbecue, a clown for the kids, pony rides and aspacewalk,” Donna Flynn of North Canterbury Drive, LaPlace, recalled. “Wehad over 200 people.”Lt. Wayne Norwood reminded residents that to conduct a legal block party,where a through-street is blocked off, approval is required by the ParishCouncil.Maurin also suggested the parties invite their parish councilmen andschool board members, giving each a chance to hear from theirconstituents.A group of ladies, newcomers to the program, consulted both with Flynnand the deputies on getting free banners, door-hangers and on preparingand distributing flyers.In separate press releases, St. John Sheriff Wayne L. Jones said: “Takethis opportunity to say hello to your neighbor that you see, but hardly geta chance to talk to. Get to know one another and talk about the concerns ofthe community, and how we can help combat the crime trend.”St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne added: “This year’s theme is’Give Neighborhood Crime and Drugs a Going-Away Party.’ From 7 p.m. to11 p.m. on Aug. 4, homeowners, apartment dwellers and local businessesare asked to turn on their exterior lights for security and spend theevening with their neighbors and police outdoors, demonstrating solidarityagainst crime.”The event also allows people to establish contacts with neighbors,developing new friendships and banding together for mutual protection.”We just had a neighborhood get-together,” Denver Hatchell observed, “andit was the first time we had seen many of them in a year.”More than 27 million people are expected to participate across America.The program is sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch, andco-sponsored locally by the St. Charles and St. John Sheriff’s Offices.In St. Charles Parish, people planning a Night Out Against Crime blockparty should phone Lt. Dwayne LaGrange or Deputy Susie Breaux at 783-1355.In St. John Parish, phone Norwood at 652-7058.

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