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Raleigh Neighborhood Celebrates Safer Streets at 'National Night Out' Party

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RALEIGH — Every year for the past 16 years, police have asked you to turn off the TV for one night, turn on the porch light, and get to know your neighbors a little better -- it is called National Night Out.

It is a fact that Neighborhood Watch programs help police reduce crime. The hard part is keeping the watch going after the crime problem is gone.

Residents in the Oakes neighborhood say drugs, crime and violence used to be part of everyday life in their community. However, they formed a Neighborhood Watch program and made it safe for them to leave the house.

Last year on National Night Out, Vickie Williams said her apartment had been broken into three times. The burglars stole her property and her piece of mind.

"I said, 'You can't live in a neighborhood without someone breaking into your home,'" said Williams, who helped start a Neighborhood Watch program.

Over the past year, a lot of things have changed in Williams' public housing community.

"In the last year, our neighborhood has improved," Williams said. "We have no break-ins, no vandalism, no trespassing."

Williams and her neighbors have reason to celebrate at this year's National Night Out party. They have kicked serious crime and drug-related violence out of their neighborhood.

"We had a lot of drugs, we had shootouts, we had break-ins, we had it all," says Neighborhood Watch member Lottie Moore.

The residents say Neighborhood Watch programs work. They say the proof is that they can feel safe again in their own homes.

"The community decided that they wanted a safe place for their children," Moore said. "They decided that they all wanted to get together and see how they themselves could make our neighborhood a safe place."

One of the problems with Neighborhood Watch programs is keeping people interested and involved. They have not had that problem at the Oakes. They are still working with the same full staff that they started with.


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