Charles County Prepares for National Night Out

LA PLATA, Md. - The Charles County Sheriff’s Office, residents of more than 100 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 which falls on August 7 this year.

Many residents will participate in National Night Out by hosting neighborhood block parties, while some residents choose to demonstrate their support for the fight against crime by leaving their porch lights on. Businesses have offered to display messages on their marquees, provide giveaways, hang banners or serve as coloring contest depots. Celebrations typically last between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.

Sheriff Rex Coffey and deputies of the Sheriff’s Office will visit participating neighborhoods. Some other special guests will take part in National Night Out as well: McGruff the Crime Dog and his nephew Scruff.

The national sponsor for National Night Out is Target and the Target in Waldorf is providing giveaway items for participants. Additionally, 7-Eleven has donated 200 coupons for free Slurpees. Additionally, Thornton Funeral Home, Wal-Mart and the American Legion in La Plata have made monetary donations to support the Sheriff’s Office’s National Night Out efforts.

The Department of Social Services will host the National Night Out celebration for residents of the Kent Avenue corridor of La Plata and the Nanjemoy Community Center will host a celebration for Nanjemoy-area residents.

During National Night Out, children between the ages of four and 12 are invited to participate in a coloring contest sponsored by the Sheriff’s Office. Entries will be 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.

“This is the first time I will have the opportunity to participate in National Night Out as the sheriff of Charles County and I am looking forward to it,” said Sheriff Rex Coffey. “This is a huge event in our community and I want to visit as many neighborhoods as possible and talk to as many people as I can about crime prevention in Charles County.”

This is the 24th 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, according to the National Association of Town Watch.

Last year, the Sheriff’s Office increased participation in Charles County from 128 neighborhoods in 2005 to 137 neighborhoods. Fifty-one businesses participated in 2006. Businesses first began actively participating in 2003 when 16 businesses joined in the festivities.

For more information about participating in National Night Out, contact Community Organizer Connie Gray at 301-932-3080.

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