Get people out of their houses, get neighbors talking with each other, improve the lines of communication between residents and police -- these are some of the goals of National Night Out.
"It’s priceless (when people talk) because without that information you turn into a reactive police department where you’re constantly reacting to crime," Det. Rich Schauf said.
"There are so many things that people don’t realize are thwarted before they become a real social problem in a neighborhood just because a neighbor feels comfortable talking with a police officer on the side. Maybe we might get some information so we can quell something before it grows into something (bigger)."
Each year, the Batavia PD, with the support of other city staff and community volunteers, organize National Night Out events in neighborhood parks that include demonstrations from firefighters and police along with information about crime and substance abuse from community groups.
Last night there were events in Farrall Park, Birchwood Village and Pringle Park.
The Pringle Park event was organized by the neighborhood itself, led by Lisa Barrett and her husband, Kyle.
That kind of sustaining community effort is something Schauff said the police department hopes will grow out of these events.
"We don’t necessarily want to go into a neighborhood and say ‘oh the police are going to come in an organize your neighborhood,' " Schauf said. "We want to show people the police want to assit you and have you come out and talk to your neighbors so that you feel safe and comfortable."
Lisa Barrett, who has been involved in the organizing committee for National Night Out and is a counselor at GCASA, said that's exactly why she and her husband (inset photo) wanted to put together a community event at Pringle Park.
"We just went through the whole bath salts horrific issue and somebody’s got to stand up," Barrett said. "Somebody’s got to bring people out of their houses to get to know each other. If we do that, we’re telling the youth, we care about our neighborhood. If they see we care, they’re going to care in the future."
Schauf said he thinks Batavia is already a pretty special place because with the lines of communications that do exist between police and community, there is a lot less in the way of serious, violent crime in Batavia.
"In Batavia, I can’t think of one area were a person would have to be in fear of (his or her) life to walk through," Schauf said. "We’re looking at cities just down the road on either side of us where you wouldn’t necessarily feel safe walking in a neighborhood. Do you still need to use precautions? Absolutely.
"I tell people, harden your targets, know your area, be aware of what’s going on around you. But I think we have a gem in Batavia where bad things can happen and do happen at times, but we do feel safe because people feel comfortable talking with police and telling us things that we can look into pretty quickly."
Photos: Councilwoman Rose Mary Christian tries on the turn-out gear of a city firefighter and Deputy Brian Thompson demonstrates some of the law enforcement tasks performed by his K-9 "Pharoah."