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STRENGTH IN NUMBERS

Neighbors unite in a nationwide effort to rid their communities of crime.

Across the city, people rallied in parks and marched through streets on Tuesday night to show their commitment to keeping their communities safe from crime.

It was all part of the 24th annual National Night Out, a nationwide event designed to raise awareness about neighborhood watch programs and to encourage neighbors to band together to stamp out crime. Last year, organizers said, more than 34-million people across the country and Canada participated.

On Tuesday, Mayor Rick Baker and police Chief Chuck Harmon attended several events, thanking residents for their help.

"To have all these ears and eyes in the community is critical to what we're doing as a city," Baker said.

In the Live Oaks neighborhood, more than 50 residents gathered at a median on 52nd Street N and Burlington Avenue to listen to the area's latest crime statistics and talk about issues affecting the community.

Afterward, the group, which included children on bicycles and grandparents in their 80s, marched through the streets of the neighborhood, led by a police cruiser sounding its sirens.

The procession was relatively short, but its message clear, said Mariella Stevens, president of the neighborhood association.

"It shows a real community effort, that we're coming together as a community to fight crime and to keep our community safe for our children," she said.

Stevens added that the latest crime statistics showed how safe the neighborhood is, compared with many other areas of the city. That didn't happen overnight or by accident, she said, but from neighbors who look out for each other and call police when they see something amiss.

"We keep it this way," she said. "It's the community that we've developed together."

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