LCSO encourages neighborhood gatherings for National Night Out

By Shelley Widhalm

The Surveyor

The Larimer County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) plans to encourage neighborhood gatherings Aug. 6 for the annual National Night Out instead of holding an official event.

Attendance at the last two events was low, but LCSO still wants to show its support by visiting its neighbors.

“I thought it was advertised well,” said Deputy Neil Baker of LCSO. “We didn’t have the turnout we hoped for, and I don’t think it was benefitting the citizens of Berthoud, because nobody was showing up.”

LCSO has participated in National Night Out for three years, two under the auspices of Baker. National Night Out is a prevention-based campaign that promotes partnerships between communities and first responders and aims to increase neighborhood awareness to make them better, safer places to live.

Two years ago LCSO held a local Night Out at Pioneer Park and saw a low turnout, so moved it to Fickel Park the next year, but a torrential rainstorm affected participation. Pioneer Park, though a smaller park than Fickel, offered on-site parking, a playground, and room to bring in a fire truck, LCSO’s command truck, ambulance, and other first-responder vehicles, while Fickel Park is right on Mountain Avenue, Berthoud’s main street.

“We decided to really encourage a neighborhood party,” Baker said, adding instead of a sponsor, LCSO will act as facilitator and promoter of the campaign. “That way we are achieving the goal of neighbors talking to neighbors.”

For the night out, LCSO and Town of Berthoud encourage the hosting of events like cookouts, potlucks, ice cream socials, coffee and cookie get-togethers, and block parties — if neighborhoods want to close down a public street, they need to contact the town. Some neighborhoods have their own Home Owner Association clubhouses, parks and swimming pools, and can host events there, too.

LCSO will staff four extra deputies to visit the neighborhood participants in night out in addition to the two deputies who will be handling calls. Other first responders may also participate. 

“Our goal is to enhance the relationship between law enforcement, firefighters and paramedics — first responders in general — and the communities we are serving to give citizens of Berthoud an opportunity to meet first responders face to face without there being a call to service,” Baker said.

LCSO prefers neighbors work with each other and with law enforcement to solve any arising problems before they become bigger issues.

“We would rather mentor, negotiate and mediate neighborhood issues, so everyone is making Berthoud stronger,” Baker added.

Baker will task deputies with introducing themselves and starting conversations at the stops, where they likely will stay for about 30 minutes. The neighbors will have an opportunity to ask questions or bring up concerns, and the deputies will encourage the neighbors to look out for each other.

Deputies will mention Barb Bennet of Neighborhood Watch, which aims to reduce crime and increase positive communications among neighbors. She can set up a neighborhood meeting about available resources and explain the program.

“The greatest benefit is to use this night as an opportunity to get to know their neighbors,” Baker said. “It’s really an opportunity for citizens to get to know one another.”

Neighborhoods interested in a deputy visit can register their events with the Larimer County Sheriff’s Crime Prevention Team at 970-498-5159. First responders will make visits 5-9 p.m.

For more information, visit http://larimersheriff.org/site-page/national-night-out or www.nno.org. Printable materials are available by contacting the Crime Prevention Team at bennetbe@co.larimer.co.us.

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