OCEANSIDE — Hundreds of Oceanside neighbors got together Aug. 4 for National Night Out. The annual event encourages residents to get to know each other and join in a community stand against crime.
“It’s old fashioned knowing your neighbors, and looking out for each other,” police Sgt. Steve Regalato said.
Oceanside held four neighborhood events and a peace walk on Tuesday.
Family fun nights were held at Joe Balderrama Park, Crown Heights Resource Center, Libby Lake Park and Melba Bishop Recreational Center.
Each neighborhood customized the evening to its interests. Outdoor movies were shown at all four locations. Some sites included music, games, vendors, free food and resource fairs to bring neighbors together and heighten awareness.
“It’s a great night for folks to come together, and take pride in their community,” Eileen Turk, parks and recreation division manager, said.
The night also shared an anti drug and alcohol abuse message and promoted healthy life choices.
“It’s proven when kids are active it’s a deterrent to joining gangs,” Turk said. “If they are in an organized, safe environment they’re less likely to get into trouble.”
A peace walk was also led from Pier View Way to the Oceanside Pier.
An expected 100 participants and 10 area churches joined in the walk and nondenominational prayer for the community.
“This is one area we can all be a part of bringing about a change (in) through our prayers,” Oceanside minister Sheldon Brown said. “Together we can make a difference.”
National Night Out has been recognized in Oceanside for more than 20 years, and held nationally for 32 years.
A concerted effort to step up Oceanside neighborhood safety was taken on eight years ago, following the targeted shooting of police officer Dan Bessant.
Save Our Streets community advocacy group was formed to unite community, church, nonprofit, police and city year-round outreach efforts.
Working together has paid off. In the last 10 years Oceanside saw a 33 percent drop in overall crime, according to the FBI crime index.
Regalato said during the last decade the city’s population has grown, and calls for police service have increased by 50 percent in the last two years, while crime has decreased. Residents say they feel safer.
“Yes, we do have some problems every now and then, every city does,” Brown said. “But by working together we can stop the major problems from happening, and from increasing in the different neighborhoods.”