Local residents come together for Night Out against crime

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 13, 2002


LAPLACE – Attendance for recently held St. John the Baptist Parish Night Out Against Crime block parties was down. Neighbors said rain and the West Nile virus scare kept many residents indoors during this year’s festivities.

Timothy Robinson and other organizers of a block party on St. Andrews Street in the Cambridge subdivision, LaPlace said they were prepared for 300, but had only a handful of neighbors at this year’s block party. This was the first block party organized in that area and party-goers said the turnout was understandably low. Next year, organizers plan to start planning for the event earlier and they plan to add entertainment for neighbors attending.

“We are only dampening the surface this year,” Robinson said. “We’re going to get some disc jockeys and a spacewalk next year. We want to get the kids involved.”

Organizers of the Hancock Street Block Party in LaPlace, one of the largest parties of the night, said they normally have 60 or more neighbors at the event. This year the party started late and incorporated fewer neighbors than in previous years. Turnout at the event was disappointing, organizers said.

But a little rain did not stop the vigilant from coming out to meet neighbors and to take a stand against crime.

“We block the street off,” said Hancock Street Organizer Debbra Sparks. “The kids get to ride their bikes and play sports in the street. This is a night they look forward to as much as we do because they get to do things they do not normally get to.”

Flashing police lights, dueling barbecue grills, and Lt. Vernon Bailey’s special barbecue were delicious reminders that small, close-knit communities can be fun and be a big deterrent to crime.

“We do not have any problems in our neighborhood,” Bailey said. “Neighborhood Watch – we have that here. Everybody watching out for each other.”

On Melrose Street in LaPlace Emergency Preparedness employee Kathy Gilmore was grilling up a batch of food for neighbors and local police officers.

“It is nothing we normally do not do on this street anyway,” Gilmore said. “It is just a different day of the week.”

“It gets everybody in the festive mood and it makes people more aware of what is going on in the neighborhood,” Neighbor Sandra Jacob added.

Night Out Against Crime is a national event launched to strengthen community and community-police relationships, to heighten crime- and drug-prevention awareness and to send a strong message to criminals that communities are fighting back.

“We want all the people in the neighborhood to know their neighbors and to be vigilant,” Corporal Leslie Naquin said. “It can bring down crime.”

St. Charles coverage by LEONARD GRAY

NORCO – Dozens of people clustered at block parties, in driveways and garages and under carports, wary of the rain and mosquitoes but ready to stand up against crime.

It was Tuesday night – the National Night Out Against Crime. Residents all over St. Charles and St. John the Baptist parishes joined in the national observance, serving up hot food, listening to speakers and music and connecting with their neighbors and with police.

Deputy Clyde Taylor of the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office held his own block party, inviting AME Inc. founder Burnell Moliere to Diamond Plantation to give a motivational talk to neighborhood children.

Taylor, a 17-year law enforcement veteran, likewise urged parents to “stop throwing your kids off on other people,” and urged them to take more time with them.

“They’ll show you more love when you take time with them,” Taylor said.

Children displayed anti-crime posters and enjoyed Melvin Adams on the keyboard, leading the gospel singing. Children also received “Junior Deputy” badges, coloring books and plastic water bottles.

TRIAD coordinator Lori Duplessis likewise hosted her own party on West B Street, along with husband, Chris Duplessis, an employee at Shell Pipeline.

Their party, on Ormond Meadows Drive, offered chili dogs, deer sausage and chips, as deputies heard concerns about bicycle thefts, littering and speeding.

“The police response has been excellent,” said Chris, as Lori did child fingerprinting on her driveway.

Susie Breaux, coordinator of the Night Out program for Sheriff Greg Champagne, again held her own party at her Ormond Meadows Drive address, greeting deputies, neighbors and their children.

Kenneth and Shirley Gaubert held perhaps the largest party that night, as their Gassen Street home in Luling greeted dozens of guests, including District Attorney Harry Morel, Assessor Clyde Gisclair and Parish President Albert Laque.

In that neighborhood, a long, straight street, speeding is a major concern, Gaubert said, as well as juvenile crime such as theft and burglary of homes. Two years ago, he said, his own garage was hit.

“The speeding, we can’t get nothing done about it,” he said. “They need to tighten up patrols.”