As time goes on, new scams pop up and old scams rear their ugly heads again. Crime never stops, it only ebbs – and the annual event promoting community policing and officer-neighborhood relationships to help prevent it is right around the corner.
Next Tuesday, Oct. 2, officers from the Harris County Precinct 1 Constable’s Office and Houston Police Department will fan out around the local area for the annual National Night Out. The initiative began in 1984 to promote involvement in crime prevention activities, police-community partnerships, and neighborhood camaraderie, as well as to send a message to criminals that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.
“We’re going to be embedded at as many events as possible so we can educate them on how to protect each other and increase the likelihood that they won’t become victims of a crime,” Precinct One Constable Alan Rosen said. “We try to arm them with knowledge that we have so they can share it amongst the neighborhoods and become that much safer.”
Rosen and his team will be out providing crime tips and information on common crimes, such as package theft. More than half of Americans said they know someone who’s had a package stolen from outside their home, and 30 percent said they have experienced it themselves, according to a survey by Xfinity Home in 2017.
There will also be information available on Precinct One’s free Rape Aggression Defense classes, and more.
“Those make up pretty much the whole package of what National Night Out is supposed to be about – unity and discussing crime and safety issues,” Rosen said.
Most importantly, Rosen said, Precinct One deputies will also focus on the newest scam trends which have manifested themselves over the past year and change. These include such as the jury scam (where victims are told they are under arrest for not attending jury duty) jugging (which involves valuables left in a vehicle at gas stations that are then stolen), as well as discussing tips on how to avoid “sliding,” which involves information being stolen as a customer swipes a credit or debit card to pump gas.
“We’re going to be discussing the current crimes going on so that we can educate people on how to avoid become victims of them,” Rosen said. “We try to look at what sort of crimes are happening and what the latest trends are, and use that as a forum to talk about them.”
Breaking down walls
Precinct One tries to put out these types of warnings year-round, but Rosen said National Night Out provides an enhanced environment in which to provide information to the neighborhoods – it’s strength in numbers.
“Neighbors actually take the time to get together with each other, and that gives us a good audience to message what we typically do to individual households, to a collective group. We’re able to message all of the latest scams and trends when there’s a group like this assembled,” he said. “We’re always trying to engage the public, but [with NNO] the public knows this is a night to get together with neighbors for the sole purpose of discussing these trends happening in their neighborhoods.”
Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo echoed the sentiment, and added the event provides a way of breaking down barriers, and lets neighborhoods bring back a true sense of community while providing a great opportunity to bring police and neighbors together under positive circumstances.
“National Night Out is one of our most important events, since this is a way to further strengthen and enhance our police-community relationships. I have often said the greatest force multiplier to a police department is the community,” he said. “We all have to be vigilant and paying attention and we need the community to be our eyes and ears. I urge everyone to get out and meet your neighbors and all the hard-working officers in your area. Together, we can continue to keep Houston safe.”
An estimated 2,500 are anticipated to attend one National Night Out celebration in Northwest Houston hosted by the Near Northwest Management District from 5:30-8 p.m. at the White Oak Bayou Village Shopping Center. The event is free and open to the public. NNMD National Night Out activities will include kids’ rides and games, music and booth giveaways.
Attendees will be given a National Night Out BINGO card and challenged to find and meet the businesses on their cards. Completed BINGO cards can then be submitted for a door prize drawing at the event. Door prize donors are local businesses who are committed to building strong, safe communities.
“Every year, we meet new neighbors and renew acquaintances while spreading the good news about our growing business community,” NNMD President Wayne Norden said. “The event brings together law enforcement, public safety agencies, schools, community organizations, local businesses and area residents while providing lots of fun activities and many opportunities for guests to gather as a community.”
More information about NNMD and National Night Out can be found online at www.nnmd.org.