As part of a national rally to raise awareness of crime prevention and to unite community and police anti-crime efforts, local law enforcement agencies and Neighborhood Watch groups plan to celebrate National Night Out next week.
County police plan to cruise the western end of Prince William on Monday night, joining with residents at carnivals, block parties, socials and cookouts in an effort to send a message to criminals that "neighborhoods are organized and fighting back" against crime, said Sgt. Kim Chinn, police spokeswoman.
Police plan to have four motorcades operating Monday and Tuesday nights. National Night Out is officially scheduled for Tuesday night, when communities across the country will unite against crime in public rallies and events.
"Lock your doors, turn on your outside lights and spend your evening outside with neighbors and police who will be visiting the neighborhoods," Chinn said.
This year's celebration is the 16th annual campaign, which has placed a strong emphasis on generating support for local anti-crime programs and in fostering a good relationship between law enforcement and neighborhood organizations. According to the National Association of Town Watch, which sponsors the event, 9,420 communities participated in last year's National Night Out, with a total of more than 31 million people joining in the festivities.
"National Night Out has proven to be an effective, inexpensive and enjoyable program to promote neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships in our fight for a safer nation," according to the group's literature. "Plus, the benefits your community will derive from National Night Out will most certainly extend well beyond the one night."
Prince William's efforts last year were given one of the event's top awards for jurisdictions of comparable size. Prince William was ranked 21st in that group and was the only community in Northern Virginia to receive an award last year.
Chinn said extensive celebrations are planned throughout the county, with traditional parties and quite a few unusual ideas, such as a pajama party, chili cook-off and a large-scale lemonade stand. Chinn said that a Dumfries neighborhood group plans to perform a skit and that at least one neighborhood is planning to have a disc jockey.