At least 15 neighborhood groups will be holding block parties tonight in Albany, and dozens of police officers will be visiting neighborhood groups to promote camaraderie among residents and help prevent crime.
Albany, along with other municipalities in the Capital Region, is taking part in National Night Out, a program designed to heighten crime prevention awareness, generate support for anti-crime programs, strengthen neighborhood spirit and police/community partnerships.
It's also intended to send a message to criminals that neighborhoods are fighting back.
The Albany Police Department and the Police Athletic League are sponsoring the city's 24th annual National Night Out.
National Night Out is important for any community interested in crime prevention and helps the community and police department work together to make neighborhoods safer, said Detective James Miller, spokesman for the Department of Public Safety.
It brings light to the fact you need to do crime prevention on a regular basis, not just one night, he said.
Miller said the event allows people who wouldn't regularly have contact with police officers to meet them in a much different atmosphere from when an officer is responding to a call.
Police officers throughout the city, including K-9 patrols, mounted units and the new mobile command bus will visit neighborhood block parties during the course of the evening. Block parties are being held throughout the city beginning at 5 p.m.
Some of the groups participating include the Helderberg Neighborhood Association, West Hill, West End, and Thurlow Tenant Association.
John O'Grady, president of the West Hill Neighborhood Association, said they will hold a simple picnic with hot dogs, soda and a few activities for the kids. He said the police always come around some on horses along with McGruff the crime dog and the mayor.
It's a way of expressing that we like to do good things in our neighborhood, said O'Grady. I think it's not a matter of vigilance, but a matter of morals and doing anything along these lines helps fight crime. It's hard for criminals to act nasty in a good neighborhood, said O'Grady.
There will be a neighborhood party in Washington Park that will include a free presentation of an outdoor movie on a large inflatable screen. The festivities in Washington Park start at 8 p.m. and culminate with the outdoor movie.