Charles County Prepares for "National Night Out" on Aug 1

The Charles County Sheriff's Office, residents of approximately 137 neighborhoods and about 40 businesses are preparing for the largest crime prevention event of the year, National Night Out. As always, the event is scheduled for the first Tuesday in August - August 1 - and this year, the Sheriff's Office is expecting Lt. Governor Michael Steele to visit some of the neighborhoods with Sheriff Frederick E. Davis.

The national sponsor for National Night Out this year is Target, and the local Target in Waldorf will be visiting neighborhoods handing out giveaways. The Department of Social Services will host the National Night Out celebration for residents of the Kent Avenue corridor of La Plata. Some other special guests will take part in National Night Out this year as well. McGruff the Crime Dog and his nephew Scruff will be making appearances in many Charles County neighborhoods. Additionally, Smokey the Bear will promote his message about f ire safety at the Bel Alton Volunteer Fire Department and the Charles County Rescue Squad and local volunteer Fire Departments will also visit neighborhoods.

Many residents will participate in National Night Out by hosting neighborhood block parties, while some residents choose to show their support for the fight against crime by leaving their porch lights on. Businesses have contributed to National Night Out this year by making donations, offering to display messages on their marquees, providing giveaways, hanging banners, serving as coloring contest depots or hosting activities including offering free food. Lefty's Bar B Que will offer food and the Best Western will provide free cookies during the evening.

Children between the ages of four and 12 are invited to participate in a coloring contest sponsored by the Sheriff's Office. Entries are available from neighborhood coordinators and from several local businesses. Winners will be announced at a ceremony to be held at a later date and prizes will be awarded.

"National Night Out gives the Sheriff's Office, citizens, businesses, government officials and community organizations an opportunity to celebrate our collective efforts to reduce crime and maintain the quality of life we enjoy in Charles County," said Charles County Sheriff Frederick E. Davis. "National Night Out is a great experience and I am looking forward to visiting as many neighborhoods as possible."

This is the 23rd annual National Night Out. The event was introduced by the National Association of Town Watch in 1984 to heighten awareness and strengthen participation in local anti-crime efforts. The first year, 400 communities in 23 states participated in National Night Out. This year, more than 34 million people in 10,000 communities in all 50 states, U.S. Territories, Canadian cities and military bases worldwide are expected to participate, the National Association of Town Watch said.

Last year, the Sheriff's Office increased participation in Charles County from 124 neighborhoods in 2004 to 128 neighborhoods. Fifty-five businesses participated in 2005 compared to 43 in 2004. Businesses first began actively participating in 2003 when 16 businesses joined in the festivities.

UPDATE 2007-07-28: The Charles County Sheriff's Office will not offer fingerprinting services Tues., Aug. 1, due to the National Night Out celebration. Fingerprinting services will resume Thurs., Aug. 4. The Sheriff's Office offers fingerprinting services to citizens Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4-6 p.m. at the Headquarters building located at 6915 Crain Highway in La Plata. The cost is $2.50 per card for Charles County residents and $3.50 per card for out-of-county residents. Only exact change and money orders are accepted. No appointments are necessary.

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