8/14/2013 7:59:00 AM Community, police bond to fight crime on National Night Out
Zack Martin thanks Prescott Valley Police Cmder. Art Askew for his service at a Block Watch party on Cypress during National Night Out Aug. 6.
Trib Photo/Cheryl Hartz
For a National Night Out Block Watch party, a tree on Cypress Circle holds 19 flags, with one more planted in the ground below, to honor the 19 Granite Mountain Hot Shots who died and the groupís lone survivor of the Yarnell Hill Fire.
By Tamara Sone Special to the Tribune
Communities across Prescott Valley and surrounding areas kicked off the National Night Out Against Crime on Tuesday with food and fellowship.
The annual event, founded by the National Association of Town Watch, began nearly 30 years ago as a way to help communities foster relationships with their local police departments.
To date, more than 37 million residents in 15,000 communities across the nation and around the world take part in the event, according to the organization's website.
At Mary and Mel Dyke's house off of Manley Drive, neighbors gathered to enjoy root beer floats and talk about the goings on around the neighborhood.
"A lot of these people don't know each other and that's the whole idea behind this," Mary Dyke said. "It's a good thing because I like to know who my neighbors are."
In addition to getting to know one another, the event offers residents a chance to connect with local law enforcement officials.
Cpl. Tyran Payne from the Prescott Valley Police Department was on hand at the Dyke's home to pass out crime watch signs and gather residents' updated contact information.
Payne has been working with the neighborhood watch group for nearly two years, he said.
"This event builds a better unity between the public and the police department," Payne said. "This way they get to know me and I get to know them."
Over in Prescott, more than 50 residents gathered in the community room of the Hidden Valley Ranch Homeowners Association to enjoy a potluck dinner and pick up some safety tips from Prescott Police Chief Jerald Monahan.
"I certainly recommend that you take responsibility for your neighborhood and you call the police and you look out for each other," Monahan said to the group.
However, while Monahan encouraged residents to be alert for crime in their neighborhood, he stressed the importance of calling police instead of taking the law into their own hands.
"I would caution you on challenging anyone," Payne said. "You have the right to defend yourself if someone breaks into your home, but there are certainly consequences with that. The emotional toll that comes with taking a life, whether you are right or wrong, is always going to be there."
While feasting on brats, beer and a variety of other savory dishes, residents shared their concerns with one another.
"There was a man that was arrested up here a couple of weeks ago, so people are concerned about that," HOA manager Meredith Hughes said. "Also, they've heard that there are some halfway houses up here that we were not aware of."
Many of the residents look forward to the annual event, Hughes said.
"This is important to the community. A lot of these people like to come together and meet each other and share information," she said.
For more information on the event or ideas on how to host your own community gathering, visit www.natw.org.