Garcia, president of the South Side Community Organization, joined with members of the group for its third National Night Out in McDonald Park as a show of support for their neighbors in Tracy.
“It’s just something we give back to the community,” Garcia said of National Night Out, “We’re here for you and to help you out any way we can. We just like to instill that in the whole neighborhood and the whole community of Tracy.”
National Night Out is a yearly event first organized in 1984. It’s designed to encourage neighborhoods to come together publicly to demonstrate their unity against criminals and crime.
Garcia said it’s important to educate the south side community.
“They need to know their police department,” Garcia said. “They need to know their fire department. They need to see what the city of Tracy is doing for them. Because the city of Tracy helps us out a lot. Everything we do, they’re there. That’s just the way the city of Tracy works. We’re grateful for that.”
City officials, including City Council members, the police chief and city manager, divided into four groups to visit neighborhood watch groups around Tracy.
Captain Jeremy Watney made a stop at the Edgewood Neighborhood Watch group with Councilman Robert Rickman.
“Over the last couple of years we’ve had a lot of success catching guys breaking into houses but the only way we catch people breaking into houses is when somebody calls us,” Watney told group members. “The reason why we catch them is we have concerned neighbors watching out for each other and calling us.”
Gene Malogan, captain of the Edgewood Neighborhood Watch, said the group uses National Night Out to create a tight community.
“You gotta get involved with the neighborhood. Get to know them,” said Malogan. “That’s the key, involvement. You gotta get to know your neighbors. Don’t be shy or afraid. We all have the same concerns.”
Malogan, who once had someone kick in his garage door to get in his home, chased down two alleged burglars in his neighborhood this summer. He said a safe neighborhood is founded on familiarity.
“These people in this neighborhood, they know who lives here,” said the watch captain. “I know when my neighbors come home, and usually when they’re out of town. If you just create a great, safe environment in your neighborhood everything else will follow.”
Regardless of the reason Councilman Rickman, who is a California Highway Patrol officer, said he hopes everyone gets involved.
“We need to come together and fight against crime,” said Rickman. “The police department can’t do it on its own. We need everybody.”
Some Tracy residents used National Night Out to thank emergency responders. Sandra Bayhi is the neighborhood watch captain for Bessie Avenue between 11th Street and the north side of Sutter Tracy Hospital.
“We love our protectors, our police, fire,” Bayhi said. “We’re really just welcoming and thanking our protectors. That’s what we’re doing.”
Bayhi has organized 13 National Night Out celebrations at her home and said the education provided by police officers and firefighters over the years is appreciated in her neighborhood.
“I know it’s bringing our neighbors together,” Bayhi said. “I know if disaster does happen we can all pull together and save our animals and each other.”
• Contact Michael Langley at 830-4231 or firstname.lastname@example.org.