By Mary O’KEEFE
On Aug. 3 front porch lights will be turned on, residents will walk out into the street and one of the oldest deterrents to crime – neighbor talking to neighbor – will be practiced.
This is the foundation of National Night Out. Law enforcement within the foothills area will join other across the nation in combining traditional police work with old-fashioned grass root activism.
“Some neighborhoods will have their own [recognition] of the night but this year we are having a big event at Ralphs Fresh Air Market for La Crescenta residents and at Memorial Park for La Cañada residents,” said Los Angeles County Sheriff Deputy Jorge Valdivia of the Crescenta Valley Station.“This year we are focusing on little neighborhoods in [La Crescenta/North Glendale] area,” said Glendale Officer Matt Zakarian.
“We will have our event at Little Landers Park for the Tujunga area,” added Los Angeles Police Department Officer Richard Wall.
All three departments are reaching out to the public in different ways but with a common goal of developing a partnership between law enforcement and the community.
The Ralphs event will include information booths on safety and local organizations like Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and Montrose Search and Rescue. Council members from the Crescenta Valley Town Council will also be present.
“One of our main focus [areas] will be fingerprinting kids and supplying identification books for parents,” Valdivia said.
Due to concerns of child abduction a company began offering fingerprint kits to parents in the late 1990s. This practice reportedly helped law enforcement when a child went missing.
Valdivia is hoping that Tuesday’s event will serve as a way to increase awareness and participation in Neighborhood Watch programs.
Those programs are exactly what the north area of Glendale will be highlighting on Aug. 3.
“We have been having smaller events but widespread throughout local neighborhoods,” said Officer Zakarian.
Zakarian is the community police officer who covers the Crescenta Valley area of Glendale.
“Within my area we now have 11 Neighborhood Watch [programs.],” he said.
National Night Out is a good time to promote these types of programs and to have officers on hand to answer any questions about how to start a watch.
Neighborhood Watch program invites neighbors to meet and discuss problems in their area and to get to know each other.
“There was a situation where a house was being burglarized but because neighbors didn’t know each other the neighbor that was a witness did not know who belongs at that home. The witness eventually contacted police but by that time the home had been ransacked and burglarized,” Zakarian said.
Neighborhood Watch is not just about crime prevention but can work during disasters allowing residents to have an account of elderly neighbors that may need help.
“We also had the [Neighborhood Watch] members help with a missing dog. One neighbor had emailed her block captain that she had lost her dog. The captain had just received an email of a dog found,” he added. “We had another incident where a child had gone missing. Emails were sent to all the [local] block captains who contacted neighbors to look on their [streets].”
Within a short period those block captains had pictures of the child ready to post around the area. Fortunately the child was found quickly but Zakarian uses this as an example of how effective this program can be.
National Night Out is also recognized in Tujunga at Little Landers Park.
“We have a barbeque and booths,” LAPD Officer Wells said.
They too reach out to residents to join the watch program. There will be officers at the event to answer questions and deal with concerns from residents.
All events are from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Fire and law enforcement representatives will be at the large gatherings as well as the neighborhood ones. Ralphs is located at 2675 Foothill Blvd. In north Glendale the addresses are: 1640 Santa Rosa Ave, Vickers Dr. and Sparr Heights, 3600 block of Malafia Drive in 91208 area. Sycamore and Cloud avenues, Mayfield and Boston avenues, 5300 block of Quail Canyon Rd, 3900 block of El Lado Dr., 3200 block of Los Olivos Lane, 3500 block of Santa Carlotta St. and 5000 block of Lauderdale Ave. in the 91214 area. For more information on locations and contacts go to www.glendalenno.com or contact Officer Zakarian at (818) 249-8173. Little Landers Park is located at 10116 Commerce Ave, Tujunga 91042. For information visit www.lapdonline.org/foothill_community_police_station