Public Safety Council president Liz Style said the annual event began in the 1960s when neighbors did not know each other. The issue garnered national attention when a New York woman was repeatedly stabbed. Neighbors peaked from their windows when they heard her screams, but no one called the police.
NNO was conceived as a means to talk to one another and build community.
Some do porch parties. Some places do festivals.
“You get connected with your neighbors,” Ms. Style said.
Public safety outreach coordinator Jay Gilmer passed out information on registering a neighborhood’s NNO event with the city’s Dept. of Public Safety. The address is: pittsburghpa.gov/national-night-out/index.html.
Those groups which register will receive information, ensure a visit from public safety personnel, and be eligible to request barriers and “no parking” signs at no charge.
NNO is designed to create positive relationships between you, your community, and public safety personnel; generate support for neighborhood safety strategies; and send a message that neighborhoods are organized.
Block watch committee chair Donna Williams said a NNO party on Kirk Ave. last year attracted many city officials, including the mayor.
Knoxville is going to hold their event the prior Saturday this year.
In the Slopes, a small block party is held that usually draws about 50 people, and many public safety personnel. On the Flats, it is a potluck evening with attendees bringing a dish to share.
To a question of whether another day may be chosen and the street closed, Mr. Gilmer said to send him the request for a permit.
He also said if a group wants a public safety vehicle sent to any event during the year, let him know and he will see if it can be arranged.
In business reports, Ms. Style said she attended the South Pittsburgh Coalition for Peace meeting, which focused on how neighborhoods are impacted by trauma.
In the treasurer’s report, the public safety council has about $200 in the bank. The group will be receiving a $2,000 grant from the city, which will help purchase items for the NNO.
Next, Ms. Williams said she has put together a packet for those who want to start a block watch, and for block watch captains. The information will also be on the online website, when it is available
A street must be registered to receive a packet, and for public safety personnel to help you get started. The police also need to know in case they want to alert the neighborhood to something going on.
Call Ms. Williams at 412-884-8359 and tell her the street name, your name, and how many people are expected at the block watch. She will then attend and give a talk along with Officer Christine Luffey.
Ms. Williams also said if a neighborhood has drug or guns or nuisance problems, to pass the information on to the Zone 3 police officers as a block watch is not expected to solve these issues.
“If you don’t want to call, call me,” she said.
In other news, the family-oriented Picnic with Police will be held from 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. on June 29 at the spray park, or “Fort,” in Arlington at Fernleaf, Salisbury, and Spring streets.
There will be free food, Pirate Parrot, deejay, children’s activities, tables with information, and more. The site also has a basketball court and ballfield.
Ms. Style called it “a simple, old-fashioned kind of picnic.
The bomb squad, fire trucks, SWAT, EMS, police motorcycles, and patrol cars will be there. There will also be police horses and dogs.
“We want a day when people can come and have fun,” she said.
Volunteers are needed to set up tables, tents, and chairs; set-up begins at 8:30 a.m.
The purpose of the picnic is to bring police and public safety bureaus together with residents to develop and sustain mutual understanding and respect to maintain a safer Zone 3.
In the crime report, Commander Karen Dixon said crime in Zone 3 is down in all categories for the first quarter of this year.
Ms. Williams attributed it to police personnel as she said they follow up on all information given to them by residents.
An attendee said he is putting a block watch together, and two neighbors stopped to tell him their cars were rifled through. He said to be identified as a block watch captain who people can turn to for such matters bodes well for a future block watch.
The commander said to call 911 if you see someone prowling. Send a video, if available.
In announcements, the Red Cross installed 468 smoke detectors in Carrick.
There will be a 90-minute active shooter response training session at 6:30 p.m. on June 18 at the Brashear Association on Sarah St.
It will also be the final business meeting before the Picnic with the Police.