Residents from across the borough are about to mark the longest-running war in the nation’s history.
From Flatbush to Manhattan Beach and Canarsie to Coney Island, residents will be taking back the night against muggers, drug dealers and burglars with their local foot soldiers — the neighborhood beat cops — as they participate in their local National Night Out Against Crime celebration, an annual event that turns the ripe old age of 25 this year.
Since the first National Night Out was established back in the early 1980s, thousands of residents have gathered to heighten crime and drug awareness, learn about local anti-crime programs and strengthen both neighborhood spirit and the bonds between the community and their NYPD protectors.
In essence, by partying the night away on Tuesday, August 5, residents will be putting criminals on notice: the community is organized and fighting back.
At each National Night Out event, which is usually organized by your local precinct’s community council, you can find a treasure trove of crime fighting strategies that will reduce your chances of becoming a victim.
New crime fighting tactics include enrolling in the NYPD’s cell phone registry, where one’s cell phone is marked with a special code. If the phone is ever stolen and found again, it can be returned to you through the code number, which is left discreetly on the inside of the phone’s battery, officials said.
Officials at Patrol Borough Brooklyn South said that a healthy number of the muggings that have taken place over the last year have been over cell phones.
“Even if we register five phones on National Night Out, that’s five people who will be getting their cell phone back or five people who may not be victimized at all, because their phone isn’t that desirable anymore,” explained Deputy Inspector Corey Pegues, the commanding officer of the 67th Precinct in East Flatbush.
While felony crime in the 67th Precinct has dropped by just over 74 percent in the last fifteen years (crime throughout all of southern Brooklyn has dropped by 75 percent since 1993), Pegues says there’s still plenty to do.
“In East Flatbush this year, we have 1,200 index crimes,” he explained. “That’s 1,200 people who have been raped, robbed, had their cars stolen or been shot; there’s still crime out there. We may be down by 75 percent, but its our goal to reduce crime by 100 percent, or at least 95 percent. That’s why National Night Out is still important. If our presence at the event or the information we hand out can stop just one crime, then it’s well worth it.”
While crime prevention is still key, many commands celebrate National Night Out with a second mission in mind: the building of positive relationships between cops and the community.
“[National Night Out Against Crime] began in a time when we had to fight for each and every street,” said Chief Joseph Fox, the commanding officer of Patrol Borough Brooklyn South. “While we don’t have to fight for our streets any longer, I still think that this event sends an important message — it demonstrates the partnership between the members of the community and the officers from our local precincts, something we work on every day.”
“These days, National Night Out Against Crime is more about bringing the community together,” added Deputy Inspector Frank Cangiarella, the commanding officer of the 63rd Precinct in Mill Basin. “[Night Out] is designed for people who don’t normally interact with the police, to give them the opportunity to know what we do and what’s available to them. We open up our doors to people who are reluctant to reach out to us.”
This year’s Night Out Against Crime celebrations include:
The 60th Precinct (Coney Island, Brighton Beach, Seagate): Celebrants are expected to gather at KeySpan Park, 1904 Surf Avenue, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The 61st Precinct (Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach, Homecrest, parts of Midwood): Organizers promise to “bring the community and law enforcement together in a festive celebration” right out in front of the 61st Precinct at Coney Island Avenue and Avenue W. The fun begins at 5 p.m.
The 62nd Precinct (Bensonhurst, Bath Beach, Gravesend): Billed as “an evening together,” the 62nd Precinct’s National Night Out festivities will take place at Bath Avenue and Bay 22nd Street from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Participants are encouraged to turn their lights on in their homes and go to the precinct to celebrate, as well as “send a message to criminals, letting them know that our neighborhood are organized and fighting back.”
The 63rd Precinct (Marine Park, Flatlands, Bergen Beach, Mill Basin, Mill Island, Georgetown): Their yearly National Night Out Against Crime festival and march will kick off on East 69th Street between Avenue U and Veterans Avenue from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
The 66th Precinct (Borough Park, Kensington, parts of Midwood): There will be plenty of food, rides and giveaways at the 66th Precinct National Night Out celebration, which will take place right outside the precinct on 16th Avenue between 57th and 60th streets. The party will last from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
The 67th Precinct (East Flatbush): The 67th Precinct Community Council has made it a tradition to move their National Night Out Celebration from block to block.
This year, the cops and community are expected to take back the night on Troy Avenue between Snyder and Church Avenues between 6 and 10 p.m.
The 68th Precinct (Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights): Residents will be honoring the police at Shore Road Park at 79th Street starting at 6 p.m.
Organizers said there would be plenty of food, ice cream and candy, as well as plenty of “water games” for the kids. An opera singer is also expected to entertain, giving the affair a touch of class.
The 69th Precinct (Canarsie, the Paerdegats): Captain Milt Marmara, the new commanding officer of the 69th Precinct, will be welcoming residents to the celebration at Rockaway Avenue between Foster Avenue and Avenue D.
The fun filled evening is expected to start at 6 p.m. and end at 9 p.m.
The 70th Precinct (Flatbush, Ditmas Park, Midwood): The 70th Precinct Community Council will be hosting a community cook out at the Parade Grounds at the corner of Parkside and Caton Avenues from 6:30 p.m. to 8. Sponsors include the 70th Precinct Community Council, local merchants and Target, which just moved to the Flatbush/Midwood Junction.
According to the National Association of Town Watch, 34 million people joined in National Nights Out celebrations across the nation