National night out in Albany - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

National night out in Albany

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August 2, 2005

Albany-- Monday night, south Georgians joined people across the country to help strengthen their neighborhoods. Nationwide, millions of people took part in the 22nd Annual National Night Out.

It's a fun night for kids in Albany neighborhoods. "Jumping and doing backflips," says 12-year-old Calvin Bennett. It's not often that they get to be out late, especially the night before school starts. "Just having fun," says D'angelo Atkins. Tuesday night they had permission from law enforcement.

"National night out is a night we set aside for the children and the kids of the community," says Kevin Casey of ADDU.

It gives officers the chance to personally meet the members of the community that they serve on a weekly basis. "It's heartwarming to be able to spend some one on one time," says Casey. And it makes residents more aware of how to prevent crime and drugs in their neighborhoods by having a closer relationship with the police department.

"All they see is a beat car running through the area. They don't get to see us as people," says Casey. Events like this help to bridge the gaps between citizens and cops.

"They bring some of their folks, some of the neat things like police cars and their alarms and their flashing lights," says Dan McCarthy of the Public Housing Authority. Even if it takes bright lights and strong sirens, a night of togetherness is what it takes to strengthen neighborhoods across the US.

"We hope they'll walk away with a little more sense of community, a little more sense of ownership of their neighborhood and a willingness to say hey, we're not going to let a criminal element come into our neighborhood," says McCarthy. Here in this South Georgia neighborhood, that message is loud and clear and they're celebrating.

"Going away party for the criminals," says McCarthy.

The kids are excited about going away to school Wednesday morning. "Yeah pretty much but the second week I probably won't be," says Bennett. A national night out lets them know they're coming home to a safer neighborhood.

Albany Police sponsored four national night out events around town. Organizers say the events reduce neighborhood crime.

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