Watch groups ready for celebration
by Glenn Moore
Aug 01, 2014 | 2883 views | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Residents in Tracy and Mountain House will turn on their lights and take a stand against crime in their communities as they join in the 31st National Night Out on Tuesday.

Four caravans led by the Tracy Police Department will spread across the city visiting 22 Neighborhood Watch block parties that registered for the National Night Out celebration from 6 to 9 p.m..

Vivian Mendoza, crime prevention specialist at the police department, said several new neighborhoods are joining in this year.

“We have several new Neighborhood Watch groups participating. They are getting pumped up, ready to be part of the community making neighborhoods safer,” Mendoza said.

The National Association of Town Watch sponsors the nationwide event, with local co-sponsorship by the city of Tracy and the Tracy Police Department.

The national association started National Night Out in 1984 as a way for neighbors to meet and help prevent crime in their communities. The association’s website states that 37.8 million people from more than 16,124 neighborhoods across the nation, in U.S. territories, in Canadian cities and on military bases worldwide are expected to take part in this year’s event.

Mendoza said that with Tracy’s bedroom community makeup, many neighbors never have a chance to meet during the day, and National Night Out is a way to get acquainted.

“Getting out with your neighbors, getting to know their neighbors, talking to the neighbors — that’s the best part of it,” Mendoza said.

Mendoza said the caravans will include members of the police department command staff, Volunteers in Police Service, local fire department, City Council and city staff. The police mobile command post and armored vehicle will join the caravans in making the rounds of block parties and thanking the Neighborhood Watch groups for their efforts.

Mendoza said the caravans give the officers and the community a chance to visit neighborhoods in a friendly atmosphere, instead of only meeting police in the aftermath of a criminal event.

Even in neighborhoods that aren’t getting a visit from one of the caravans, Mendoza hopes residents will still turn on their porch lights and open their doors to meet each other and help make their neighborhood safer

“If they come out for just 10 or 20 minutes, they can get to know their neighbors,” Mendoza said.

Neighbors in Mountain House will have a chance to meet during a National Night Out party from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at Central Community Park, 25 E. Main St.

Melissa Saldana, the Mountain House Neighborhood Watch area coordinator and a captain in Wicklund Village, said it will be the community’s first large gathering to celebrate National Night Out. She hopes the event will help recruit new members.

“We are trying to build up our Neighborhood Watch,” Saldana said. “With the bigger event, we want to bring our community together and make it a safer place.”

Each of the villages in Mountain House — Wicklund, Bethany, Questa, Altamont and the fifth, Hansen, now under construction — comprises about 10 developments. Saldana said the goal was to have an active Neighborhood Watch in each development. So far, there are 21 Neighborhood Watch captains scatted throughout the community.

Representatives of the San Joaquin Sheriff Department will visit the Mountain House National Night Out gathering. Someone from Tracy Rifle and Pistol will talk about home defense and gun safety, and there will be a free self-defense class.

Residents are encouraged to plan a picnic dinner in the park, where they will find information booths, food trucks and a children’s area including a bounce house.

• Contact Glenn Moore at or 830-4252.

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