On Aug. 5, citizens of America will come together in an effort to eradicate crime and disorderly conduct from their towns and neighborhoods. The opportunity to fight for their cause is made possible through the 31st annual National Night Out event held in thousands of U.S. cities, including Hesperia and Apple Valley.
The Town of Apple Valley will hold its program from 5 to 8 p.m. in the parking lot of the Super Target Shopping Center, 20288 Highway18. Hesperia’s event is set to take place from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Super Target Shopping Center, 12795 Main St.
Along with providing a variety of information about how to build a safer community, there will be a number of activities for the entire family to enjoy. They include face painting, fingerprinting and a police and fire vehicle exhibition. There also will be complimentary food items.
“This is really like a big Neighborhood Watch event that allows everyone in the community to get together and learn about safety,” said Karen Hunt, crime prevention officer at the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Apple Valley Station.  
“When a large group of people focus on a common goal, it can have a great impact,” Hunt said. “And this event certainly has made a difference in making our town a safer place to live.”
According to Hunt, the Apple Valley Station and its officers desire to send a message to criminals that neighborhoods are aware of what they’re up to and are prepared to fight back. During the NNO program, law enforcement personnel will be on hand to offer crime prevention tips and tools, such as how to start a Neighborhood Watch group.
Hunt also said that a lot of safety information will be handed out and McGruff the Crime Dog is scheduled to appear. Additionally, there will be a company at the event that will be offering VIN number etching on windows so that a vehicle can be tracked if it’s stolen.
“There always seems to be quite a few people who attend the event that inquire about starting Neighborhood Watch groups,” said Hunt. “It’s nice that our residents can come and have this information at their fingertips.”
The first National Night Out took place on Aug. 7, 1984 and drew 2.5 million participants from 23 states. The program is sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch, a non-profit organization dedicated to the development and promotion of various crime prevention programs.  
This includes Neighborhood Watch groups, law enforcement agencies, state and regional crime prevention associations, businesses, civic groups and individuals, according to  www.nationalnightout.org.
According to NATW’s Executive Director Matt Peskin, more than 37 million people now participate in NNO events in the United States and Canada.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for communities nationwide to promote police-community partnerships, crime prevention and neighborhood camaraderie,” said Peskin in a statement on NATW’s website. “While the one night is certainly not an answer to crime, drugs and violence, National Night Out represents the kind of spirit, energy and determination to help make neighborhoods a safer place year round.
“The night celebrates safety and crime prevention successes and works to expand and strengthen programs for the next 364 days.”
For more information, visit www.applevalley.org or www.cityofhesperia.us.