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Neighbors rally against crime

By Michael Kiral / L’Observateur / August 10, 1998

LAPLACE – Neighborhoods across St. John the Baptist Parish “GaveNeighborhood Crime and Drugs a Going-Away Party” for National Night Out Against Crime Tuesday night.

Over 20 block parties were held in neighborhoods from one end of the parish to the other as neighbors took the opportunity to get to know each other while sending a message for crime to stay out of their neighborhoods.

St. Charles Parish residents also participated in Night Out activities. Infact, more than 27 million people across the nation participated in National Night Out Against Crime festivities. The yearly program isdesigned to heighten crime and drug prevention awareness, generate support and participation in local anti-crime efforts, strengthen neighborhood spirit and relations between law enforcement agencies and the community and tell criminals that neighbors will be watching out for each other in an effort to combat crime.

St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff Wayne Jones and officers and deputiesfrom the St. John Parish Sheriff’s Office made the rounds to the blockparties in the area. Jones said he has been able to place more deputies onthe street and that crime statistics have gone down a little. Jones saidthe Night Out Against Crime would give residents a chance to meet others living around and that would help in crime fighting.

“That is what it is all about, neighbors watching out for their neighbors,” he said.

One of the biggest parties in the area was held at the Flynn residence on North Canterbury. Councilman Steven Thornton was there and agreed thenight was good for the community.

“It is good to see all the neighbors meeting each other,” Thornton said. “Itmakes for tighter knit neighborhoods and a tighter knit community.”Parish President Arnold Labat also stopped by the Flynn party.

“It is an opportunity for neighbors to watch out for each other and reach out for each other,” Labat said. “It is a step forward in communityrelations. I want to thank all the people who went through the effort toput these activities on.”This was the fourth year for the block party on North Canterbury Street.

Kimberly Hidalgo, who helped organize the party, said over 200 people attended last year and more were expected to attend this year’s activities. There were activities for the children, including a clown, aspacewalk and pony rides, as well as a band for the adults. And of course,there was food and beverages for everyone to enjoy.

“We got the community together from different streets and got street leaders,” Hidalgo said. “We pulled together to see what everybody coulddo.”Donna Flynn said the parties gave neighbors a chance to meet those who would be watching out for their safety.

“I look at it as a way for neighbors to get together and look out for each other and take care of their neighbors,” Flynn said.

Larry and Cynthia Clarke held a block party at their residence in the Links subdivision. Larry Clarke said they decided to get involved again this yearbecause of the response of the neighborhood to the party they held last year.

“The neighborhood should stay together and keep crime out of a newly created subdivision,” Clarke said.

Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Thomas Daley, who attended the Clarke block party, said the night was also important in helping combat crime.

“There is nothing better than community involvement to prevent crime,” Daley said. “Being familiar with the surroundings can make all thedifference in the world in regards to crime prevention. Night Out AgainstCrime creates community involvement in the neighborhoods and provides an opportunity for people to get together, to meet each other and be on the look out for each other in case of trouble. I feel it is very important.”

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