Enjoying a safe night out

The rare sight of food trucks parked along Royal Boulevard on Tuesday drove some residents to enjoy a night out with their neighbors.

That's exactly what community organizers hoped would happen during their event for National Night Out, a movement focused on enhancing neighborhood safety.

While residents devoured the Mediterranean-inspired dishes from the Hungry Nomad food truck and followed it up with an icy Hawaiian treat from the Get Shaved truck, they chatted with their neighbors about a variety of issues in their neighborhood.

In hosting the event, organizers from the Royal Canyon Property Owners Assn. hoped “to make it a friendlier place to live — where you want to get to know your neighbors,” the association's president Leanne Reynolds said.

Organizers gathered email addresses from residents, whom they planned to keep informed about “good and bad” neighborhood issues, she said. They also hoped to persuade residents to join or start a neighborhood watch group in their area.

This year's community participation in National Night Out jumped from 44 events last year to 50 citywide, according to Glendale Police Sgt. John Gilkerson. That's double the 25 events in 2010.

The increased community participation is largely due to the Police Department's outreach efforts in South Glendale, where more residents hosted events, he said.

National Night Out was established in 1984 to strengthen local drug-prevention and crime-fighting efforts by encouraging more residents to get involved in neighborhood watch groups — a concept that Glendale police officials have embraced.

“Getting to know your neighbors and being aware of potential issues in your neighborhood is key to maintaining Glendale's safety,” Glendale Police Chief Ron De Pompa said. “It is these partnerships with the community that enable us to remain one of the safest large cities in the United States.”

The Police Department hosted the annual event for residents citywide until 2008, when officials changed that and decided residents should organize their own National Night Out events to encourage neighborhood connections and establish safer streets.

Hundreds of residents attended the Rossmoyne Mountain Homeowners Assn.'s outdoor movie screenings at Nibley Park. Other communities hosted coffee and desserts in front of a neighbor's home.

John Sanchez, who lives near the Glendale Sports Complex in the San Rafael Hills, attended the Royal Boulevard gathering because he said there were no events in his neighborhood.

While Sanchez is concerned about crime, he said his neighborhood has been safe.

“For the most part, I have never had a problem, but I like to keep my eye on stuff going around the city,” he said.


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