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National Night Out activities set on Tuesday
Ceres Police Chief Art deWerk

Many communities around the nation will be celebrating the 30th anniversary of "National Night Out" (NNO) next week, which will bring community members together with the goal of reducing crime, drug abuse and other community ills. NNO is an activity sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch since 1984 and in recent years, its popularity has grown. In Ceres, budget constraints have made it impossible to have the NNO event during the last several years, but this year, we are pleased to bring it back as a result of community grass roots efforts and volunteer involvement.

The Ceres NNO is scheduled for Tuesday, August 6 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Ceres Community Center. There will be at least one other NNO neighborhood gathering at a local apartment complex during the same time as the main city event. Any neighborhood can hold their own NNO, and city staff will be happy to provide a program outline for people wishing to do so.

It has been long known that the safest communities are the ones where the people who live and work there take an interest in keeping them safe. This involves knowing your neighborhood and the people who live there, and having enough knowledge to recognize suspicious behavior and when to call the police for assistance. Crime prevention tips, especially regarding the ever-increasing problem with identification theft and the various Internet scams, are good to know during these times we are in.And to name just a few of the agencies and exhibitors that will be at the August 6 NNO, bank representatives with banking safety tips, college representatives, Crimestoppers, Turlock Irrigation District, Ceres Fire and Police personnel, along with CHP, will be at the event. Animal Services will also be at the event with animals for possible adoption as well. We will have emergency vehicles on display, there will be lots of information booths and in summary, there will be no shortage of things to learn about crime prevention and there will be plenty of people to meet and things to do.

A great amount of effort is being put into this year's NNO, so we encourage everyone to make a point of coming to the event on August 8. You will not be disappointed, so be sure to bring your family members and friends!

I also want to take this opportunity to share another program for public participation. Specifically, the Ceres Police Department is launching a Community Academy, which starts on August 8. There are more details available by calling 538-5726 but here are the basics: the Community Academy is an 11-week course that meets on Thursday nights from 6-8 p.m. It is free to any Ceres resident or person employed in the City of Ceres. The Ceres Department of Public Safety created this program to equip local business owners, employees, and residents with the necessary tools to prevent crime, be alert witnesses, and good reporters of crime. The Academy will provide education on crime trends and teach situational awareness to help citizens become less-likely victims of crime.
With this program, it is our hope that we can forge a stronger a partnership between our citizens, local businesses, and the Ceres Police Department to thwart criminal activity in our community. Participants in this program will become leaders in their neighborhoods, sharing their knowledge with others to make our neighborhoods safer, protect business interests, and make it clear to criminals that they are not welcome here.

Everyone is encouraged to apply, although seating may be limited. All persons applying will be subject to a preliminary background check. Applicants may access the application via this link: or in person at the Ceres Police Department, located at 2727 Third Street, between the hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. All completed applications must include a copy of the applicant's photo ID and be received either by mail or by hand-delivery no later than this Friday.

Both the National Night Out and the Community Academy programs are the city of Ceres' sincere effort to better connect with the community, while at the same time, arming residents and people who work here with valuable information that could well reduce their chances of being a crime victim. I hope to see you at the NNO on August 6 at the Ceres Community Center and that you seriously consider attending the Community Academy that starts on August 8.