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National Night Out promotes community safety, awareness

POSTED: August 6, 2013 12:39 a.m.

Community organizations, law enforcement and private citizens will join tonight for National Night Out, all with the goal of promoting safety.

The festive and informative annual event will be held in the Gainesville Target parking lot from 5-8 p.m.

It brings together the Hall County Sheriff’s Office, Gainesville Police Department, Flowery Branch Police Department and Georgia State Patrol, along with several other family- and safety-oriented organizations.

These agencies will provide information on different programs within their groups. Also, some of the emergency vehicles will be there for people to view. For example, the sheriff’s office will bring its mobile command unit, which spokesman Chad Mann said most people would find interesting.

“The main goal of the whole thing is just to foster the bond (between groups) and heighten some crime prevention awareness,” Mann said.

“But the main message that we want to get across is to criminals,” he added. “Just to let them know that these are our neighborhoods, we are organized and we are fighting back to prevent and deter crime inside the community.”

Kim Martin, coordinator of Safe Kids of Gainesville and Hall County, said the evening is a great way to introduce the general population to agencies and law enforcement.

The Safe Kids booth will have information on water safety, school bus safety, car-seat safety and sports safety, including the signs of a concussion as football season begins.

“We’re bringing awareness to signs and symptoms of recognizing a concussion and what to do,” Martin said. “It’s one of my favorite programs to do, because we reach so many people in just a few hours.”

On top of the vendor safety demonstrations and information, hot dogs and hamburgers will be available. There will be several games set up, plus a dunking booth and face painting, and Target will be giving away back-to-school supplies as game prizes.

Target, at 514 Shallowford Road, has hosted the annual event over the past few years.

“It’s important for all of us,” said Sam Schultz, asset protections team leader with the store. “We get to see some of our leadership and authority figures in the community, and build great partnerships with them.”

Joe Britte, spokesman for the Gainesville Police Department, said National Night Out is a way for citizens to get general information on safety programs.

“It’s another good way to kind of spread the word about neighborhood watch, crime prevention, home security and personal safety,” Britte said.

“There will not only be information,” he added. “There will be music, there will be face painting ... there will be food, also. Have fun and learn how to protect yourself.”


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