Taking a night out of crime

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 6, 2007

FRANKLIN—Everyone deserves a night out. So while you’re at it, why not do something good for the neighborhood?

National Night Out, according to Sgt. Mark Cornell of the Franklin Police Department, is a crime-prevention effort, an annual event designed to strengthen neighborhoods through police-community partnerships.

The goal is to heighten crime- and drug-prevention awareness, build support and participation in local anti-crime neighborhoods, and most importantly, send a message to criminals that our neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.

Sponsored by Target, the event has been organized nationally for about 24 years. This, however, will be the first time the event is being run locally, It is being held Tuesday from 7 to 9:30 p.m., by the Police Department and the Olde Towne Neighborhood Watch Group.

“We only have two active Neighborhood Watch Groups at this time,” said Cornell. “The Olde Town and the Transtown NW group, which is headed up by Mona


All residents are requested to turn on their front porch lights during the hours of the event to show criminals that the neighborhood is watching. People are encouraged to sit on their front porch and chat with a neighbor.

Participants will start out by meeting at Franklin Presbyterian Church, where Cpl. H.K. Rose of the police department will present an opening speech about Neighborhood Watch and why it is beneficial.

“It is like a social time for neighbors to get together,” Cornell said.

Everyone is asked to bring a finger food and soft drink to share with neighbors. Ice will be supplied for beverages, but no alcohol is allowed.

“There will be flashlight walks, which is a different thing that the community and police can do together to let criminals know that we’ve banned together to fight against crime,” he said.

Citizens can join together in their individual neighborhoods for the flashlight walk, taking a trip around the block together. For the areas with no active Watch Groups, mobile police units will go from neighborhood to neighborhood, helping to establish community/police relations.

Jennifer Bernocco of the Olde Towne group, and also founder of the Franklin Historic District Neighborhood Association which is in support of the event, said, “It is important to get citizens out and active in the community and to let them know that we care. The more exposure you have in a community, the more chance you have at fighting back against crime.

“The moral is to be proactive.”

Bernocco also noted the importance of getting to know your neighbor.

“We’re trying to get people away from living in a ‘strangerhood’ and back to living in a neighborhood,” she said.

Cornell said the police department and the Watch groups want to expand the event next year.

“I hope the two Neighborhood Watch Groups will be a springboard for next year,” he said. “We certainly encourage other groups to form and become involved.”

For more information on forming a Neighborhood Watch Group, contact Cornell, 562-8549.

To find out more about National Night Out, log onto www.nationalnightout.org.