With lights flashing and sirens wailing, more than 100 law enforcement vehicles left the Civic Center and fanned out into neighborhoods Tuesday as part of the 17th National Night Out in Columbus.
Debbie Garrett, coordinator of the Clubview and Hilton Woods neighborhoods with about 175 homes, was surprised to get a visit from Police Chief Ricky Boren who also had a helicopter flying briefly overhead. Garrett joined more than 30 neighborhoods for the national event recognized across the nation to meet the people who help fight crime in neighborhoods.
Garrett presented the chief with a body camera and tactical vest for a new recruit. The neighborhood used a grant and money from neighbors to buy the equipment valued at almost $1,000.
“We just have a great group of neighbors,” Garrett said.
Boren said the new equipment will be used by an officer entering the police academy. The chief praised the efforts of residents working with police. “Thanks for everything,” Boren said to the crowd near Hardaway High School.
Ann Porter, vice president of the Holly Hills and Greenwood neighborhoods, greeted law enforcement with rhythm and blues music, plenty of food and even games for children.
“We haven’t had very many problems here in our subdivision,” Porter said. “The police department has done a great job. We call them and they come. We are very appreciative for that. We work together by looking out for strange cars. We take down tag numbers so if you ride through here and we don’t recognize you, we put down the tag number so if we need it to turn in to police department, we have it.”
After about 15 years of fighting crime, Porter said the neighborhood looks forward to the event every year. “We want to continue doing this ’cause it’s a great success,” she said.
Sharon Pierce, coordinantor of the Park District, greeted law enforcement officers with cookies, tea and ice cream at 1817 Garrard St. The neighborhood includes Weracoba and St. Elmo.
“We really feel that we have a good, safe neighborhood,” she said. “We are fairly close to downtown and police patrol here regularly and they look after us.
“We just don’t have that much crime here. We have a few car break-ins. Our neighborhood is pretty safe. We all know each other. We look after each other.”
Police Maj. J.D. Hawk, head of the Patrol Services Division, said the event gives law enforcement an opportunity to meet residents, have some food with them and continue to build relationships.
“This is what we are doing this for,” he said. “We are doing it to get cooperation from citizens so they can help us lower that crime rate even more. We get to know people, they will call officers and talk to the officers. It can always get better and that’s what we want it to do.”
Compared to last year, Hawk said burglaries are down. “Things are looking pretty good,” he said.