This will be the eighth time Tracy has joined in the annual crime prevention observance, which is in its 29th year across the nation.
The Tracy Police Department will organize a caravan of police officers, accompanied by employees from Target and Pacific Gas & Electric Co. and city of Tracy officials, to visit 11 Neighborhood Watch groups from 6 to 9 p.m., according to Vivian Mendoza, crime prevention specialist for Tracy police.
She said the goal of the caravan is to spread awareness about crime prevention, reconnect with members of the watch groups and “reenergize and reactivate” groups that have gone dormant for various reasons. There are about 155 documented Neighborhood Watch groups, but “it’s hard to actually know how many are still active,” Mendoza said.
“Sometimes people move, or because of the economy, they had their house foreclosed,” she said. “We want to find people to fill the captain’s role and get them excited again and show them that we should know our neighbor and we should care for our neighborhoods.”
As the caravan travels around Tracy, many of the groups on the route will host neighborhood get-togethers to encourage “neighbors to meet each other and talk about our problems,” said Bob Otani, block captain for Sterling Classic, a watch group in the area of Gretchen Talley Park near Sycamore Parkway and Valpico Road.
His group will host a pot luck gathering that features “a lot of ethnic food,” Otani said.
“It’s a time when we get most of our neighbors out,” he said. “We like to make it a good social atmosphere. When the police come by with their lights and the police dogs are out, it makes a big impression on everyone.”
Since forming more than seven years ago, Otani said, the group has successfully advocated for a security camera in Gretchen Talley Park and two speed monitoring signs in the neighborhood.
Not all groups in Tracy are making plans.
Debbie Del Dotto, block captain for the Sequoia Boulevard watch group, said it can be difficult at times for the group to get participation, because the neighborhood has a high number of renters.
She said events like Tuesday night’s are “perfect chances” to spread the word about actively participating in a Neighborhood Watch group. Her group was formed in 2007 after a homicide in Alden Park, which is bordered by Sequoia Boulevard.
“We all stay in touch with email, like if something happens or someone sees something, but really I try and keep an eye out for everyone,” she said. “This is a good way to get people out and bring them together.”
As warm-up for the National Night Out, a safety fair will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 4, in front of the Tracy Police Department, 1000 Civic Center Drive. The event will include tours of emergency vehicles, K-9 demonstrations, safety information booths, fingerprinting for children, tours of the police station and an appearance by McGruff the Crime Dog.