National Night Out event stresses banding together to deter crime

On Oct. 3, there is a good chance someone in your neighborhood is going to have a party with a purpose.

That’s the date for the local National Night Out events, and there were 126 parties in Gregg County and the city of Longview last year, said Longview Police Chief Mike Bishop.

Each of these parties has the purpose of decreasing crime in neighborhoods, and last year’s numbers broke the record for the number of parties thrown.

Tuesday night, almost 320 people showed up at Maude Cobb Convention and Activity Center to register their parties so they could compete for a golden Crime Watch sign to be placed in their neighborhood.

This year’s theme for Longview’s National Night Out is “Let’s get back to simpler times.”

Sekettia Brantley, with Partners for Prevention, who is co-coordinating the event with Police Area Representative Officer Brandon Thornton, said the theme means to get to know your neighbors like people used to do.

“It’s all about getting back to simpler time, a simpler life when things were not as complex,” Brantley said. “Turn off the electronic devices, and get out there and socialize.”

People attending the event got a chance to pick up their National Night Out yard signs and register their parties so they could be judged on who throws the biggest bash against crime on Oct. 3. They also were treated to a meal of hamburgers and hot dogs.

People unable to attend the National Night Out Kick-Off can register their party at or just Google Longview’s National Night Out, Brantley said.

“We really try to push this every year for all the neighbors to get together,” Thornton said.

In keeping with the theme, three antique police cars and an antique firetruck were on display.

Victor Scalco let his buddy John Stone drive his 1966 Ford police car to the event. The classic car had a box of doughnuts on the dash, which made police officers laugh, and a mannequin dressed as a criminal in a black-and-white striped uniform.

“You can drive a $ 100,000 car, and no one looks at you, but you drive this, and you get a lot of thumbs-up,” Stone said.

“We need to get back to simpler days where we could trust everybody,” Stone said. “A lot of people just don’t want to work for a living, they want to steal something.”

Judy Tidwell, who manages the Woods Luxury Apartments, said this will be her third year to throw a National Night Out Party.

“Well, I think it helps my tenants to know their neighbors because people move in and out,” Tidwell said. “We have food catered and have a bounce house for the kids.”

Longview Mayor Andy Mack said he was proud to see the turnout for the kickoff and it sends a clear message to people who might want to break the law.

“We are here for one single reason and that is because we care,” Mack said. “We care about our community, and we care about each other.

“What makes me proud to be your mayor is we are banding together to strengthen our town. We have worked together and done an amazing job from last year. …when we work together we can accomplish anything together.”

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