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Police say partnering with public helps improve protection

Police departments throughout the valley aim to make their areas safe in various ways. Several employees who work in the Las Vegas Metropolitan, Henderson and North Las Vegas police departments agree that a key component to promoting safety starts with residents.

"The best crime prevention is a neighbor who is active and looking out for other neighbors," said Keith Paul, Henderson Police Department spokesman. "The goal is to get the community involved and help with the crime issue."

Paul said Henderson's community relations unit has crime prevention programs tailored to children. A program called DREAMS, for instance, focuses on helping elementary school students make positive choices . One of the department's biggest events, he said, is National Night Out, slated from 6 to 8:30 p.m. today at the Henderson Events Plaza, 200 S. Water St. The event is set to provide an opportunity for residents to meet with police officers in a non emergency situation and learn about how they can be involved with crime prevention.

The North Las Vegas Police Department has a similar National Night Out event scheduled from 6 to 9 p.m. today at Hartke Park, 1900 E. Tonopah Ave. Chrissie Coon, department spokeswoman, said annual events such as National Night Out and Safe Halloween are ideal for providing crime prevention information to the community, but daily initiatives can make more significant impacts.

"The Neighborhood Watch program is a good example of the day-to-day crime prevention," Coon said. "It shows how people are actually taking action in their area. I think that suspects will prey on areas that don't have programs like that in place."

Coon said that in addition to working with residents, the department has made efforts to connect with businesses through its Safe City program. The initiative involves working with area businesses to raise awareness about warning signs and implement cameras and other security measures to ward off crime.

Coon said initiatives such as these are vital to keeping crime rates down in neighborhoods.

"It's a huge component to send a message to would-be criminals," Coon said. "It shows businesses and residents are staying on top of their neighborhoods and lets (criminals) know they'll be reported."

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department's community initiatives, such as its National Night Out events and Neighborhood Watch programs have similar aspects to others throughout the valley.

Some initiatives, such as the department's multi-housing program, tackle issues such as crime prevention in apartment complexes. The voluntary program involves training apartment managers for crime prevention, a property inspection and implementing safety education programs for residents. Twenty-nine complexes are certified through the multi-housing program, according to the department's website.

Department spokesperson Jose Hernandez said the crime-free multi-housing program is especially ideal for new residents.

"It's good for people who are looking for a new place to stay because they can see what complexes have been through all of the (program) requirements," Hernandez said. "There's an agreement between the property manager and Metro where the information is given to Metro on people for background checks. That helps identify new people in the area and track fugitives and suspects."

Another initiative Las Vegas police have adopted is working with local faith-based organizations. The department organized three events in July with volunteers from churches in which participants conducted beautification projects, and residents took a prayer walk alongside police officers. Hernandez said that 400 to 500 volunteers from five churches participated in the July 21 Southeast Area Command event, which is something officers hope to build upon in the future.

"This is an effort to address areas that may have a high call for service and request more of our attention," Hernandez said. "We hope to continue holding events like this."

Hernandez believes promoting crime prevention with the community's assistance is one of the most important assets to the department. Neighborhood Watch groups, he said, are one of the highest priorities.

"Neighborhood Watches are extremely important for us, especially when we have a group of people who are enthusiastic about the process," Hernandez said. "Establishing something like that, you get opportunities to meet neighbors. We find a sense of community evolves from programs like this. You feel so much safer the more you learn about your neighbors."

Contact Paradise/Downtown View reporter Lisa Carter at or 383-4686.