Area residents in six communities in Highlands County had an opportunity last week to meet with deputies and investigators from the sheriff’s department while visiting with neighbors and friends during National Night Out.
The annual event is also known as “America’s Night Out Against Crime.” It was founded in 1984 as a way to promote involvement in crime prevention activities and to promote Neighborhood Watch programs.
Nell Hays, crime watch coordinator and public information officer for the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office, said the sheriff’s office supplied 760 hot dogs for the events at six communities. Deputies staffed the grills to prepare the hot dogs.
In Lake Placid, National Night Out was observed at Leisure Lakes and Tropical Harbor. Other events were at Reflections on Silver Lake, Tanglewood, Veranda Breeze Apartments, and Spring Lake.
Hays said she was pleased with the turn-out for National Night Out. “It’s wonderful to see all the neighbors coming together for a light meal and the opportunity to learn a little more about neighborhood safety,” she said.
Hays said that she hoped the events would make people more familiar with neighborhood watch programs and make them want to participate. Deputies and supervisors talked about the sheriff’s office, the duties of deputies and answered questions at each location. They also brought a K-9 unit to each event.
While most of the events included mostly adults, the Veranda Breeze Night Out party included children.
Ross Canright, a representative of the 25th Masonic District, was busy at Veranda Breeze Apartments, collecting information about the children who live there as a part of a child ID program. Canright said the Masonic District doesn’t keep the information, which is provided to parents. In the event a child is missing, the parents can provide the information to law enforcement, he said.
National Night Out was originated by the National Association of Town Watch. That group says the effort now involves more than 37 million people in 15,000 communities from all 50 states, U.S. Territories, Canadian cities, and military bases around the world.