National Night Out aims to improve police-community relationship - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

National Night Out aims to improve police-community relationships

(Source: Maranda Whittington/KPLC0 (Source: Maranda Whittington/KPLC0
LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -

The idea behind community policing is to bring police and citizens together to prevent crime and solve neighborhood problems. With community policing, the emphasis is on stopping crime before it happens, not responding to calls after a crime occurs.

National Night Out is meant to increase awareness about police programs in communities. For the most part, citizens of Lake Charles think LCPD does a good job connecting to the people.

“I feel like they're there when you need them and they give us a sense of safety,” said one resident Kim Willis.

“You may have the good, you may have the bad, but the majority are putting their lives out there for us,” said her friend, Joy Jackson.

But there are some who think otherwise

“I think that law enforcement relations can always use improvement in the community,” said another resident Christina Moreau.

“They need to improve in conversating with the community and asking people what they think they need to help with, and just putting themselves out there,” said resident Gregory Watson.

Mayor Nic Hunter and Police Chief Don Dixon agree.

“We have good relationships between law enforcement and the community but they can always be better and we must never be complacent,’ said Hunter.

National Night Out gives Lake Charles police the opportunity to see what needs to be done. It's a community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships aimed at making neighborhoods safer.

Dixon says it's crucial to put a face to the uniform and build that relationship.

“The community is the police and the police is the community - we are only effective as the support of the community,” said Dixon. “I think that's why we have a very effective police department. I think our solution rate in every crime doubles the national average because of the community. They want to be a safe community and I do believe in strength in numbers.”

It's that strength in numbers that's the focus of the night; neighborhood watch groups participate in the events.

“This is just another opportunity for us to reach out to the community and say let’s do this together,” said Hunter. “This isn’t only about the police force and the government protecting our neighborhoods, this is about the community protecting our communities.”

Both Hunter and Dixon say there needs to be a major focus on teamwork, especially with the rise in youth involved in crime. Dixon says within the first six months of this year, their juvenile arrest rates have gone up 33 percent.

“Children need to be loved. They need to have a goal. They need to achieve, they need to have self-esteem,” said Dixon. “Whatever we can do to help that, we'll be happy to.”

But he says it needs to be an effort in all sectors of a child's life.

“We want to see our young people get more involved in community safety events,” said Dixon.

Residents of all ages are encouraged to attend these Night Out events across the city on August 1.

  • The Oak Park Neighborhood Watch Group will join the South Lake Charles Watch Groups at Glad Tidings Church Youth Chapel, located at 3400 Texas Street, from 6 to 9 p.m. Attendants are asked to bring a covered dish to share. Door prizes will be given away from 6 to 8 p.m.
  • Clement Place Watch Group will meet at Episcopal Day School, located at 803 N. Division Street. from 6 to 9 p.m. It is an evening full of food, fun and public safety for the entire community. You will have the opportunity to get to know your neighbors and learn about your surroundings.
  • Jones Manor Community Building Watch Group, located at 1409 St. Mary Drive, will be held from 5 to 7 p.m.
  • Villages of Lake Charles, Kingsley Court, Bayou Bluff, High School Park, and Rufus Mayfield, will meet at 1900 Rosco J. Moore Street from 5 to 8 p.m.
  • Claire Gardens Watch Group will meet at 3441 Broad Street from 5 to 8 p.m.
  • St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, located at 123 W. Sale Road, will meet from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
  • Sycamore Neighborhood Watch Group will meet at Mike D. Lanza Park, located at 609 Sycamore Street, from 7 to 8 p.m.         
  • High Rise Apartments Watch Group, located at 333 Mill Street, will host a community meeting from 6 to 8 p.m.
  • The Terrace Neighborhood Watch Group will meet at Tarsus Bible Baptist Church, located at 2907 General Twining Street, from 6 to 8 p.m. 

Copyright 2017 KPLC. All rights reserved.

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