BARSTOW • The Barstow Police Department, city officials and local neighborhood watch groups hope to forge new relationships Tuesday.

The police are heading Barstow's activities for the 26th Annual National Night Out which will run from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. The nationwide event is designed to stop crime by building stronger neighborhood watches, developing better relationships between police and citizens and teach people ways to avoid becoming victims, according to Barstow Police Sgt. Tim Heiden. Heiden said Mayor Joe Gomez and city manager Richard Rowe will be joining the police during the event.

Police Chief Dianne Burns said the night out is a good chance for citizens to get to know police officers in a positive light. Officers will be riding the department's new T3 personal electric vehicles, scooters similar in appearance to the Segway, during the event, according to Burns.

"We're trying hard to create relationships with the members of the community," Burns said. "People are the eyes and ears of their neighborhoods. They know what the crimes and problems going on in their area are. People can play an active role in stopping crime."

Heiden said neighborhood watch groups from the Virginia Way, Mescal Drive, Mt. Vernon Avenue, Riverside Drive and Mountain View Street areas are participating in the national night out.

Riverside Drive neighborhood watch member Essie Jackson said her group is going to  have refreshments, accept new members to the neighborhood watch and talk to people about ways to keep the neighborhood safe such as leaving lights on, talking to their neighbors and watching for unusual visitors.

Susan Wyman, of the Mountain View neighborhood watch, said her group hopes to get more members and bring attention to cars that speed on Mountain View during the night out event.

"Hopefully people see the police and us out and it stops people from speeding or committing crime," Wyman said. "If people know they're being watched they might think twice before doing things."

Heiden said although this year's National Night Out is composed of several small events he hopes the event grows back to it's former size. The police department hosted a large event at the Robert A. Sessions Memorial Sportspark in 2003, but the department's community services department was dismantled in 2004 and another event was never held according to Heiden. Heiden said the department is redeveloping its community services department.

Contact the writer:
(760) 256-4126 or dheldreth@desertdispatch.com

Barstow National Night Out Events

Riverside Neighborhood Watch
Brown Fellowship Hall
1364 Riverside Drive
7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Refreshments and information on public safety and neighborhood watches

Mountain View Neighborhood Watch
600 East Mountain View
6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Refreshments and information on public safety and neighborhood watches

(Other events will be held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. throughout Barstow. Contact the Barstow Police Department at 760-255-5111 for more information.)