By Joe Beck
Area police departments are gearing up for the 31st National Night Out, a crime prevention initiative scheduled for Tuesday evening.
Front Royal, Winchester, New Market, Strasburg and Mount Jackson are planning activities focused on raising crime and drug prevention awareness, generating support for local anti-crime programs and improving ties between police and the communities they serve. Events in each community will run from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., except in Mount Jackson, which is scheduled from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Lauren Cummings, police community relations specialist with the Winchester police, said the department will be holding its event in a single location, in front of the Old Courthouse Museum, after years of hosting night out activities at separate sites throughout the city.
"The chief wanted everybody in the city together in one location, and we thought what better place than the Loudoun Street Mall," Cummings said. "It's a great opportunity for all residents in all different neighborhoods to get together and send a message we are taking a stand against crime."
National Night Out in Winchester will feature the bluegrass band Five of a Kind and an opportunity to meet Kota, the police dog that gained international attention after he was injured in the middle of a confrontation between police and a suspect in a house earlier this year.
Residents of Winchester and across the nation are asked to lock their doors, turn on outside lights and spend the evening outside with neighbors and police during National Night Out.
The Front Royal Police Department will be hosting National Night Out at the Village Commons Gazebo on Main Street. The band Souled Out is scheduled to perform.
Officer Brad Pennington said police will be unveiling a new social media website designed to bolster anti-crime activism in neighborhoods.
"It's a way to get the community together and standing up and fighting back against crime and drugs that are so rampant in town," Pennington said.
New Market Police will offer police dog and tactical team demonstrations and information on transportation, home, and bicycle safety. The event, which will be held at the New Market Town Hall, will also feature door prizes and free hot dogs, chips, refreshments and face painting.
Local singer Danni Leigh will be performing free at Strasburg's National Night Out at the carnival lot behind the Strasburg Fire Department. Her latest of four albums, "Masquerade of a Fool," was recorded on a German label and has been difficult to obtain in the United States but copies will be on sale during her performance. Food will also be available for sale. Police encourage residents to bring lawn chairs to the show.
The Mount Jackson National Night Out will be held around the Town Hall. No further information was available.
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or firstname.lastname@example.org