Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Plano residents rally Tuesday to raise awareness about neighborhood crime
This will be the 10th year the city has participated in National Night Out.
PLANO Residents from 45 Plano neighborhoods will gather Tuesday night to celebrate National Night Out, an annual event designed to bring neighbors together and to reduce crime.
One of the largest events in Plano is held in King's Ridge, a neighborhood tucked away near the city's border with The Colony. Bill Kula, a representative from the King's Ridge Homeowners Association, said he expects more than 300 people to attend this year.
"This is our 10th year participating in National Night Out, and we look forward to the event each year because it helps our residents stay connected to one another," he said. "National Night Out showcases the importance of knowing your neighbors and keeping an eye out for suspicious activity so we you can help thwart crime before it happens."
The centerpiece of the King's Ridge event is a parade, which features children and their dogs. The parade spans a third of a mile and presents an opportunity for people to create themed parade entries focused on safety and community awareness, Kula said.
"We use the parade as an opportunity to kick off the evening and get neighbors of all ages involved in the spirit of National Night Out," he said. "When you think of a community, it involves your schools, neighbors, churches and city leaders. We have many of those community pillars come to our event, which is why this is such a comprehensive opportunity to shine the spotlight on community awareness."
Plano police officers will be on hand at each of the events, allowing residents to meet the officer who patrols their neighborhood. This engagement with the police in a relaxed, stress-free setting is beneficial to all parties, said Officer David Tilley, Plano PD spokesman.
"We want to heighten crime and drug prevention awareness efforts and this gives us an opportunity to strengthen the neighborhood spirit with the partnership we have between the police and community," Tilley said, adding that Plano's 270,000 residents are the eyes and ears of a police force that has about 350 officers. "Our officers will be talking about personal safety, property safety and drug awareness efforts and what people can do to help police."
To help increase community involvement in crime prevention efforts, Tilley said the department will be promoting a number of initiatives including Tip411 and Nextdoor.com.
Tip411 allows residents to anonymously report criminal or suspicious activity to police, something that the department hopes will encourage people to break their silence if they are aware of a crime.
"A lot of times people don't want police showing up at their front door to take their statement, for obvious reasons, so this is an opportunity for people to remain anonymous," Tilley said. "It has been a success so far."
Nextdoor.com allows neighborhoods to set up social media networks open only to residents of a specific neighborhood. Police are not able to read the information on the sites but can post information such as crime bulletins on the site to keep residents informed.
"We had one neighborhood where people were siphoning gas from cars so we were able to post that to that neighborhood's site," Tilley said. "Facebook and Twitter are useful, but if I post something on there, it goes to everyone, regardless of where they live. Nextdoor.com helps us reach a more targeted audience when we need to disseminate information we feel is pertinent."
Tilley said that for security reasons the department is not releasing a list of which neighborhoods are participating in National Night Out, but suggested residents contact their HOA to see if any events were planned in their area.
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