‘Night’ deters crime

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 1, 2008


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE – Residents throughout the River Parishes will join forces with neighborhoods nationwide Tuesday night as they take a stand against crime in their communities.

Groups in all three parishes are organizing block parties and neighborhood barbecues as part of the area’s participation in the 25th annual National Night Out Against Crime/Drug Prevention Event, said organizers from the St. John, St. Charles and St. James Parish Sheriff’s Offices.

According to its Web site, the National Night Out, which is sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch, is designed to heighten crime awareness and drug prevention, generate support and participation in local anti-crime

efforts, strengthen neighborhood spirit and police/community relations and send a message to criminals letting them know neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.

“We always have a big turnout for St. John,” said Capt. Michael Hoover, commander of the St. John Sheriff’s Office community relations division. “In the past, the parish has won numerous awards for participation. Residents call us a month in advance to schedule block parties and events.”

Hoover said the parish does not do one big event. It allows the individual communities to organize their own size parties. Hoover said the parish normally averages 40 to 45 community parties.

“Deputies travel from party to party armed with all sorts of giveaways,” said Hoover. “We often get together with the fire department to show off some of our equipment for the kids. We also get a good chance to gauge the community spirit, but we want these events to get people out of their homes and into the neighborhood.”

In St. Charles Parish, the participation is slightly less, but the community spirit is just as strong.

Susie Gauthier, Night Out coordinator for St. Charles, said the parish normally schedules around 20 parties a year involving a lot of the same groups.

“There is a lot of interaction between deputies and citizens,” said Gauthier. “We make sure that parties specify if they have kids in attendance so that deputies can be ready with equipment to show off.”

In St. James Parish, families in the Vacherie area get together to stage one big local party for all the residents in the region.

All Night Out block parties or events normally run from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday night. According to the Night Out web site, the theme of this year’s night is “Giving crime and drugs a going away party.”

Both Hoover and Gauthier said the Sheriff’s Offices like to have all parties registered and cleared by Monday. Anyone still wishing to schedule an even should call Gauthier at 985-783-1355, or Hoover at 985-652-7058.