3rd Annual Oaks National Night Out

September 23, 2011
Santa Paula News

The 3rd Annual National Night Out Block Party in the Oaks drew friends and neighbors as well as those hoping to emulate such relationships in their own areas.

The event started with Oaks resident Al Guilin signing his novel “The Lemon Thorn” before a barbecue and presentation started for the crowd that ranged from little children to seniors.

Santa Paula Police Sgt. Jimmy Fogata and Lt. Troyce Reynolds were there with their own families, and although dressed in civvies they were ready to answer questions and offer advice. The September 10th event drew many people eager to socialize as well as to address safety issues.

“I’m very proud to live in Santa Paula,” said block party organizer Martha Brown, a member of Citizens Patrol who is also active in CERT and the Santa Paula Citizens Corps. She is also a Neighborhood Watch leader devoted to the program that promotes neighbor watching out for neighbor. “We are ready to help each other in an emergency,” as well as to keep aware of what occurs in the neighborhood that might rouse suspicion and how to deal with it.

Dealing with it, said Fogata, is simply a matter of notifying police. “Neighborhood Watch becomes a community within a community” who are the eyes and ears for all. 

And solid advice for all is: “If you have to think about it, report it,” as Fogata said anything that makes you think is obviously out of the norm. Being a good citizen also means not creating opportunities for crime to be committed: Fogata urged that all remove valuables from vehicles, make sure they are locked, and ensure their homes are well lit on the outside and secure. 

The SPPD is more than happy to conduct a home survey to gauge safety that Fogata said could be a matter of removing bushes that could hide prowlers near entrances. The SPPD encourages citizen involvement: “We’re proud of what your Neighborhood Watch has accomplished... some people have lived in their homes for 30 years and never met their neighbors.” 

Fogata said the “Oaks is the model for Santa Paula Neighborhood Watch programs.... It seems like Martha never sleeps,” so devoted is she to keeping in touch with Neighborhood Watch members in the Oaks. 

A good thing about Santa Paula is its size: “It’s a small place where everybody knows what you’re doing - that’s a good thing... but,” noted Fogata with a laugh, “it’s a bad thing also!”

National Night Out celebrations are part of a series of events held throughout the United States that each year are designed to heighten crime and drug prevention awareness; generate support for, and participation in, local anticrime programs; strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships; and send a message to criminals letting them know that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.

“It’s been on and off, but very busy,” said organizer Martha Brown, who noted guests were not only enjoying the barbecue and entertainment, but also taking informational brochures and other materials centered on emergency preparedness, Neighborhood Watch, and fire safety, among other topics. For more information on forming a Neighborhood Watch group or joining Citizens Patrol, call the SPPD at 525-4474.

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