MOUNT VERNON — According to Knox County Sheriff Deputy Dan Selby, National Night Out will make its debut in Knox County on Aug. 4 in a big way.
With the simple goal of helping neighbors get to know each other better in order to reduce crime, the Knox County Sheriff’s Office is sponsoring an evening of fun and free activities with the help of several local organizations and volunteers.
“Everything is free, there is no cost for anything,” said Selby, the community relations officer for the KCSO.
He hopes the event will draw families looking for a way to spend a summer evening as a family, without spending money.
There will be food, door prizes, face painting by local artist Sandy Boone, inflatables provided by Ohio Rental, balloons fromParty! Party!, and a custom/classic car show with 25 trophies to be awarded.
The theme of National Night Out, which will be celebrated in communities across the country, is “Give neighborhood crime and drugs a going away party.” Selby hopes the event will do just that.
“Our goal for the county and for all the neighborhoods is to get to know one another,” he explained.
The KCSO staff would like to see neighborhood watches, like the ones operating in the Fredericktown, Martinsburg, Apple Valley and Centerburg areas, grow in numbers and strength.
“When I started the one in Fredericktown [Spohn Road area] the people didn’t even know each other’s names,” Selby said.
The group now meets regularly, and has become a closer neighborhood, he said.
The goal of neighbors getting to know one another better, from a law enforcement standpoint, is quicker realization when something is not right.
“If you know your neighbor, you’ll know their routines and their vehicles; you’ll know when something is wrong,” Selby said.
For example, if a neighbor’s lights don’t come on at the usual times, or newspapers begin stacking up, it may be a clue something is wrong. Knowing which vehicles belong in a neighborhood can help residents notice when a vehicle that doesn’t belong is sitting on a street.
“We want everybody to get to know one another,” Selby said. “The sheriff feels this will help us out on patrol, because it’s like having eyes where we can’t be.”
The Mount Vernon, Danville and Fredericktown Police Departments have added their support to National Night Out, which will begin at 7p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 4 at the Mount Vernon High School football stadium.
Door prizes will be given away throughout the evening, including a Body Basics membership and gift certificates from local merchants.
The National Association of Town Watch started the National Night Out campaign over 25 years ago. The first annual events asked neighbors to turn on their porch lights at the same time, to show community spirit.
According to the NATW, 37 million people participated in last years National Night Out. The KCSO staff hopes Knox County residents will show up in a big way Aug. 4 to show their community spirit, and add their numbers to those working for safer neighborhoods.