FOX47 NEWS - National Night Out

Jeff Angileri
Aug 4, 2009, 10:37 PM

Tens of millions of people across the country celebrated National Night Out Tuesday.

It is a chance for law enforcement to go into communities and meet with people to make neighborhoods safer.

On Madison's south side, they talked a lot about proactive safety measures.

The message was simple -- If you see something, say something.

Too often, organizers say, people see a suspicious activity and do not report it. It is time, they say, to watch your neighbor's back.

"Get to know your neighbors," said Betty Banks. "Create opportunities in your neighborhoods for you to come together around food, around fun, or just communication and interaction, and music -- that's a great way to do that."

People at National Night Out were concerned about recent gang activity and shootings in some city neighborhoods.

Madison Police Chief Noble Wray said having the community's help is critical in keeping the places where we live safe.

"We can arrest people. We can put people in jail. We can do all of those things," Wray said. "We can deal with gangs. We can deal with drugs -- but a sense of safety is all about how people connect on a personal level."

Chief Wray says he and his officers are analyzing the 900 known gang members in the city, trying to see which ones are most dangerous. From there, they will formulate a plan of action.

Right now, two officers work in Madison's gang-crime unit. Chief Wray would like to bump that number up to five -- one in each police department district. Finding the money to do so with a tight budget is delaying that for now.

At the end of Tuesday's event, people held a candlelight walk around the Penn Park as a sign of solidarity against crime.

"We want people to say, 'Yes I can make a difference,'" said Steve O'Lear. "If I see something happen, I'll pick up the phone and call police so we'll become a better neighborhood."


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