Scores of Charleston-area residents will take to the streets Tuesday night to make a statement against crime in their neighborhoods.
Others will hold cookouts with uniformed police officers and public officials to talk about crime prevention, or simply to get to know their neighbors and the officers who look out for them.
It’s all part of the Night Out Against Crime, an annual effort to strengthen crime watches and bring residents and police closer together.
“It lets the criminals know that we don’t really want any crime in our area,” said Gerinda Doctor, president of the Forest Hills Neighborhood Association, which plans a community walk and cookout with residents and officers.
What really matters is the work that goes on all year long, she said. For instance, the neighborhood off Dorchester Road has block captains who monitor and report suspicious activity. They managed to get police involved to get drug dealers evicted from a rental house. It’s important to get citizens more comfortable in talking with police, she said.
“It’s the networking; that’s what we’re trying to build up,” she said.
The biggest rally in North Charleston will be in Pepperhill, a neighborhood off Ashley Phosphate Road. North Charleston Police Chief Eddie Driggers, Mayor Keith Summey and City Council member Rhonda Jerome will join other police officers and residents for a cookout and discussions on crime prevention, according to an announcement from the police department. Activities start at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Pepperhill Community Center on Brandywine Road.
Also in North Charleston, residents of Ferndale, Old Village, Charleston Farms, Indigo on the Ashley, Forest Hills, Woodlands, Terrace/Waylan and Coosaw Commons have announced walks, cookouts and other activities.
Maria Leahy, a crime prevention officer with the North Charleston Police Department, said a goal of Night Out is to let citizens know that police can’t solve crimes without their help.
“These individuals give of their time year round,” she said of the residents who come out. “This is a celebration of that hard work and … to let them know we can’t do it without them.”
The biggest rally in Charleston Tuesday will be at Hampton Park. Residents of several neighborhoods will walk to the park for an anti-crime rally at 8 p.m., according to Charleston Police Sgt. Trelor Shevor.
The walks to the park start at 7:30 p.m. from North Central Community Center, Mitchell Park, Corrine Park, Allan Park and Christopher Center. The rally at Hampton Park will last until 8:30 p.m. and also will include refreshments.
Block parties and cookouts are planned Tuesday night in several other Charleston neighborhoods, such as Bridgeview on the East Side and Huntington Woods and Moreland in West Ashley. Residents are encouraged to leave their porch lights on as a sign of support.
Mount Pleasant officers and residents will mingle from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Target store on Long Grove Drive, according to Crime Prevention Officer Bryce Gregory. Activities include face painting and sidewalk art for children, as well as crime-prevention information.
This is the 30th anniversary of National Night Out. It’s been going in Charleston since at least the early 1990s. The stated purpose is to heighten crime and drug-prevention awareness; build local anti-crime programs; strengthen neighborhood spirit, police and community relations; and send a message to criminals that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.
More than 10,000 communities and military bases around the world are expected to participate this year.
Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553 or twitter.com/dmunday.