College Park Citizens Gather to Enjoy National Night Out
National Night Out comes once a year, residents say, but crime prevention should be a daily occurrence.
National Night Out in College Park probably looked a lot different depending on the neighborhood event you attended.
If you were in Berwyn, you may have stood under the pavilion, licking a Popsicle. If you were in College Park Woods, you chatted with neighbors and local law enforcement while your kids amused themselves with the nearby playground. And if you were in Lakeland, you enjoyed the lively beats of the Lakeland Community Youth Steel Band and maybe grabbed a hot dog off the grill afterward.
Though each community had a different take on the entertainment, the message of National Night Out was consistent: promote safety in the community by getting to know the people in it.
Officer Gregg Livergood, who attended the North College Park gathering at Duvall Field, liked idea of encouraging people to get out and meet their neighbors.
"Throughout the year, everyone kind of does their own thing, going to work, taking care of the kids, going to school, stuff like that," he said. "This gives a citizens a night that they can actually go out and enjoy the other neighborhoods, enjoy the citizens, get to know local Boy Scout troops, law enforcement and all that."
While Berwyn's ice cream social and Lakeland's Youth Steel Orchestra added to the festive atmosphere, residents were encouraged to remember that they need not wait until National Night Out in order to take a role in keeping their community safe.
Fazlul Kabir explained at the North College Park event the importance of neighborhood watch groups, a system that designates one person on each street as the "block captain." Residents report any suspicious activity they experience to the block captain, who in turn acts as a liaison with the police. Although the system isn't a guaranteed failsafe against crime, Kabir said, it goes a long way to ensuring that people are aware - and that law enforcement is aware - of the activity on their streets.
Kim Lugo, the coordinator of neighborhood watch for the city of College Park, reinforced the idea that residents need not wait until they were in the midst of full-blown crime to contact the police. If there's something going on, she said, call the non-emergency police line, or, depending on the situation, call 911.
"If you don't think it's a police issue, let the police decide," she said. "Trust me, they will tell you. But you need to make that call. Always."