Neighborhoods across Topeka came together Saturday as part of an effort to reduce crime.
Shawnee County Parks and Recreation hosted 16 events for National Night Out Against Crime. Different businesses throughout the community helped the success of the event. Hy-Vee, Reser's Fine Foods and Crime Stoppers were among some of the sponsors.
National Night Out events help raise awareness about neighborhood safety and crime prevention.
Jeff Imparato is a resident of the Hidden Valley neighborhood in west Topeka. He said he believes knowing your neighbors is a good way to prevent crime.
“I sure like to have people looking out for my back,” Imparato said. “It’s basically neighbors watching neighbors, just watching out for each other and knowing who’s in your neighborhood.”
Monica Richmeier, facilitator of the Night Out event for Hidden Valley, has lived there for five years. In addition to preventing crime, Richmeier said, the events are a good way to get to know neighbors.
“It’s important for our kids to know each other, for us to know each other,” Richmeier said. “And you’ll never know when you’ll need the cup of sugar. So it’s just a way to get to really know people.”
At all locations, resources and treats were provided by organizations including Crime Stoppers, YWCA and the Topeka Police Department. At some events, residents chipped in for food.
Residents of each neighborhood were also able to meet police officers and deputies who patrol their neighborhoods. Debra McClelland, a member of the Historic North Topeka East Neighborhood Improvement Association, said events like this are a good way for residents to get to know the officers who work in their communities.
“They need to realize they’re partners with the law enforcement community," she said. "They help us, but we have to help them help us."
Each location’s event lasted several hours and included various activities. At Garfield Park, kids were able to pet horses, and a movie started at 8 p.m. Hidden Valley’s neighborhood had a game of kickball with state troopers, and Boswell Park had a movie on the lawn at 8 p.m.