AROUND NJ

New Jersey Celebrates National Night Out

By Michelle Sartor

Camden residents participate in one of the city's past National Night Out events. Photo courtesy of Robert Corrales.

Members of law enforcement have long touted the benefits of crime prevention and one of the efforts is National Night Out, desiged to heighten awareness of and increase participation in anti-crime efforts. The first National Night Out occurred in 1984 and has been growing strong ever since. In New Jersey, many municipalities participate in the effort to decrease crime rates.

This year, National Night Out occurs Aug. 7 and more than 15,300 communities are expected to participate. The National Association of Town Watch (NATW) introduced National Night Out: America’s Night Out Against Crime in 1984. The first year, 400 communities in 23 states took part in the event, which equaled 2.5 million people. The event grew from there. Last year, 37.1 million people in 15,325 communities in all 50 states partook in the event.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for communities nationwide to promote police-community partnerships, crime prevention and neighborhood camaraderie,” said NATW Executive Director Matt Peskin. “While the one night is certainly not an answer to crime, drugs and violence, National Night Out does represent the kind of spirit, energy and determination that is helping to celebrate safety and crime prevention successes — and to expand and strengthen programs for the next 364 days.”

The program has four main objectives — to heighten crime prevention awareness; generate support for, and participation in, local anti-crime programs; strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships; and send a message to criminals letting them know that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.

In addition to giving out information about anti-crime efforts, many National Night Out events include fun aspects like block parties, cookouts, parades and festivals, as well as safety fairs and youth events. Local officials and members of law enforcement often make appearances at the events as well.

Camden will have nearly a dozen separate events in different neighborhoods occurring Tuesday, according to City Spokesman Robert Corrales. He said most include a walk around the community as well as a social aspect. One of the events will include basketball as well.

Corrales said Mayor Dana Redd will be visiting as many of the National Night Out events as possible, which he said usually have good participation. Camden has held National Night Out events for the last five consecutive years, but has participated sporadically for “quite some time,” according to Corrales.

Camden Police participate in National Night Out events for the city in an effort to reduce crime. Here residents get literature at a past National Night Out event. Photo courtesy of Robert Corrales.

Crime isn’t new to Camden. The city has seen a very high murder rate this year, with 13 alone in July. Corrales said he believes events like National Night Out help the city. “It’s bringing the community together, sending a message that they want their neighborhoods back, that they’re the ones that will be in control of the neighborhoods, not the people who are committing these violent crimes,” he said.

Two years ago, violence broke out in Paterson after a National Night Out event. Robert Godfrey was shot and killed on a street in the city after allegedly having an argument with Marlon Rochester.

But such an occurrence is rare, according to Peskin who pointed out that at another National Night Out event, police officers involved in a foot chase were aided by residents who caught the suspect. “For all the bad stories, I could tell you as many good stories,” he said.

Paterson continues to mark National Night Out, though due to budget constraints, the city will no longer be supplying hot dogs and soda.

The Passaic County city isn’t the only one with scaled back versions of National Night Out celebrations. In Trenton, the police department has taken on a more supportive role, letting members of the Recreation Department take the lead.

Despite challenging economic times, Peskin said he expects 2012 to be bigger than last year with more than 37 million participants. “You lose cities here and there because they’re having trouble with the budgets and being able to put the event on,” he said. “But then at the same time you pick some up.”

A sluggish economy can actually improve neighborhood relations, according to Peskin. “More activities are kind of within the neighborhood as opposed to other times that were better when people were going on vacations and doing different things that were away from the neighborhood,” he said. “I think there’s now more attention to the neighborhood and people caring a little bit more about them and the neighbors around them. Because it’s just typical when times get tough, people tend to hunker down a little bit.”

New Jersey has many National Night Out activities spread throughout the state. Below is a sampling of municipalities that are registered to have events.

    New Jersey National Night Out Celebrations

  • Andover
  • Asbury Park — 5:30 p.m. at The West Side Recreation Area (between Asbury Park Middle School and The Obama Building)
  • Atlantic City
  • Audubon
  • Avalon
  • Avon-by-the-Sea
  • Bayonne — 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Del Monte Drive between 23rd and 24th streets in the Bayonne Special Improvement District
  • Belle Mead
  • Belleville
  • Bellmawr — 6 to 8 p.m. at the Bellmawr Recreation Center located at Bell and Creek Roads
  • Belvidere
  • Berlin Township
  • Bernards Township — 6 to 9 p.m. at the Ridge High School football field
  • Bernardsville — 6 p.m. at the Bernardsville Pool
  • Blackwood
  • Bloomfield
  • Bound Brook — 5 to 9 p.m. at Codrington Park
  • Bradley Beach — 6 to 8 p.m. at the Bradley Beach Firehouse, 815 Main St.
  • Brick — 6 to 9 p.m. at Windward Beach Park, Princeton Avenue
  • Bridgewater
  • Burlington — 7 to 9 p.m. at the Riverfront Promenade, located at the foot of High Street
  • Butler — 6 to 9 p.m. at Butler Park
  • Camden
  • Carteret
  • Chatham Township
  • Cherry Hill
  • Cinnaminson Township — 5 p.m. at the police station and town hall
  • Clementon — 6:30 to 9 p.m. behind Wooster Towers, Garfield Avenue
  • Clifton — 6 to 9:45 p.m. at Main Memorial Park
  • Commercial Township
  • Cranford — 6 to 9 p.m. near the Gazebo at the intersection of North Union and Springfield avenues
  • Cresskill
  • Dover
  • Dunellen — 6 to 9 p.m. in the police parking lot
  • East Orange
  • East Rutherford
  • East Windsor Township — 6 to 9 p.m. at the East Windsor PAL complex at 30 Airport Road
  • Egg Harbor
  • Egg Harbor Township — 5 to 9 p.m. in Tony Canale Park located on Dogwood Avenue
  • Elmwood Park — 6:30 to 9 p.m. at Boro Field, 500 Boulevard
  • Evesham Township — 7 to 10 p.m. at the Evesham Township Municipal Building parking lot (984 Tuckerton Road, Marlton
  • Ewing — 6 to 8 p.m. at the municipal building
  • Fair Haven — 5 p.m. at the Youth Center fields
  • Fairfield
  • Florence Township
  • Florham Park — 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Recreation Pavilion
  • Franklin (Sussex County)
  • Franklin Township (Gloucester County)
  • Freehold – 6 to 9 p.m. at the Hall of Records Parking Lot
  • Frenchtown — Saturday, Aug. 11 from 3 to 11 p.m. at the Frenchtown Field on Harrison Street
  • Garfield — 6 to 9 p.m. at 20th Century Field
  • Glen Ridge — 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Glen Ridge Town Pool
  • Gloucester Township — 6:30 to 9 p.m.
  • Greenwich Township (Gloucester County)
  • Greenwich Township (Warren County)
  • Guttenberg
  • Haledon
  • Hamilton Township — 5 to 7 p.m. at Hamilton Township Police Headquarters
  • Hammonton
  • Harrison
  • Helmetta
  • Highland Park — 5 to 9 p.m. on North Third Avenue between Raritan Avenue and Dennison Street
  • Hightstown — 6 to 9 p.m. in the police department Main Street lot
  • Hillsborough
  • Hoboken — 5 to 9 p.m. on Harrison Street between Second and Fourth
  • Irvington
  • Jackson — 6 to 9 p.m. at the Jackson Shopping Plaza at North County Line Road and Cook Road
  • Lakehurst
  • Lambertville
  • Landing
  • Laurel Springs
  • Lawnside
  • Lawrence Township — 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. at Heritage Park, adjacent to the community center of the Eggerts Crossing Village complex at 175 Johnson Ave.
  • Lawrenceville
  • Leonia — 6 to 9 p.m. on Broad Avenue between Fort Lee Road and Beechwood Place
  • Linwood — 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Bike Path, between Oakcrest Avenue and Merritt Drive
  • Little Falls
  • Little Ferry
  • Livingston Township — 5:30 to 10 p.m. on the Oval
  • Long Beach Township
  • Long Branch
  • Lopatcong Township
  • Lower Alloways Creek
  • Lower Township — 7 to 9 p.m. at the Lower Cape May Regional High School, 687 Route 9, Erma
  • Lumberton — 7:30 to 10 p.m. at the Lumberton Township Municipal Complex located at 35 Municipal Drive
  • Madison
  • Magnolia — 6 p.m. at Magnolia Little League Complex
  • Manalapan Township — 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Target parking lot
  • Manasquan
  • Maple Shade
  • Marlboro Township
  • Mays Landing
  • Maywood — 6 p.m. in Memorial Park
  • Medford Township
  • Merchantville — 6 to 8 p.m. at the PNC parking lot across from Niagara Fire Company
  • Metuchen — 7 to 9:30 p.m. at Friendly’s and adjacent parking lots, 540-560 Middlesex Ave.
  • Middle Township — 6 to 9 p.m. at the Clarence Davies Sports Complex
  • Middletown
  • Middlesex — 6 to 8 p.m. at Mountain View Park
  • Milltown
  • Millville
  • Monroe Township — 6 p.m. at Thompson Park
  • Mount Laurel
  • Mullica Township — 5 to 8 p.m. on Elwood Road
  • Neptune
  • New Brunswick — 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Feaster Park
  • New Milford
  • Newark
  • North Arlington
  • North Bergen — 6 to 9 p.m. at 7th Street & Grand Avenue, 6121 Grand Ave. (Housing Authority) and Broadway & 74th Street
  • North Brunswick
  • North Plainfield — 6 to 8 p.m. in the municipal parking lot across from the Municipal Building at 263 Somerset St.
  • North Wildwood — 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at 8th Avenue Field, 8th Avenue
  • Northfield — 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Bike Path, between Oakcrest Avenue and Merritt Drive
  • Nutley
  • Oaklyn — 7 to 10 p.m.
  • Orange
  • Palisades Park
  • Passaic
  • Paramus — 5 to 7 p.m. at Main Library
  • Paterson
  • Pemberton Township — 5 p.m. at Athletic Field
  • Penns Grove
  • Pennsville Township
  • Perth Amboy
  • Phillipsburg
  • Pine Hill — 5:30 p.m. at Overbrook High School
  • Piscataway Township — 6 to 10 p.m. on Stelton Road by Westergard Library
  • Pitman
  • Plainfield
  • Plainsboro Township — 6 to 8 p.m.
  • Pleasantville
  • Pohatcong Township — 6 to 9 p.m. at Huntington Park
  • Point Pleasant — 5 to 8 p.m. at Community Park on Bridge Avenue
  • Raritan
  • Red Bank — 6 p.m. at Borough Hall, 90 Monmouth St.
  • Ridgefield — 7 to 10 p.m. at the Community Center
  • River Vale — 5:30 to 9 p.m. at the Upper Grove Field Complex with fireworks at 9 p.m.
  • Rockaway — 6 to 9 p.m. at Fireman’s Field, Beach Street
  • Roselle — 6 to 8 p.m. at the Pine Street Playground, Second Avenue and Pine Street
  • Roselle Park — 7 to 9 p.m. at the Roselle Park Middle School (RPMS) parking lot located at 57 West Grant Ave.
  • Salem
  • Sayreville
  • Scotch Plains — 6 to 9 p.m. at the Scotch Plains Municipal Building
  • Secaucus — 7 p.m. at Buchmuller Park
  • Sea Girt
  • Sewell
  • Sicklerville
  • Somers Point
  • Somerville — 6 to 9 p.m. at Exchange Field on Green Street
  • South Bound
  • South Brunswick — 6 to 9 p.m. at Rowland Park
  • South Orange — 6:30 to 10 p.m.
  • South Plainfield
  • South River Borough — 4 to 9 p.m. at 7-Acres Park
  • Spotswood — 5 to 8 p.m. at the Spotswood Municipal Building
  • Stone Harbor — 5 to 8 p.m. on Second Avenue between 95th and 96th Street
  • Summit — 6 to 8:30 p.m. on the Village Green
  • Teaneck — 5 to 9 p.m. at Votee Park
  • Trenton — Monday, Aug. 6 at 5 p.m. in the City Hall Atrium
  • Union Beach — 6 p.m. in Downtown Union Beach
  • Ventnor
  • Vernon Township — 7 to 9 p.m. at Maple Grange Park on Maple Grange Road
  • Vineland — 5 to 9 p.m. at Chestnut Assembly
  • Washington Township (Gloucester County)
  • Washington Township (Warren County) — 6 to 9 p.m. at Meadow Breeze Park, 52 Kayharts Lane
  • West New York
  • West Windsor Township — 6 to 10 p.m. at Community Park
  • Westampton Township
  • Whitehouse
  • Willingboro

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