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Valley Night Out gatherings praised

Word to criminals: Neighborhoods are strong, unified

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Cities around the valley partied, rallied and unified Tuesday night to send the message to criminals that they will not tolerate crime in their neighborhoods.

Communities used the 13th Annual National Night Out to drum up support for law enforcement and crime prevention efforts — as Salt Lake mayor's office spokesman C. Ted Nguyen put it, "signaling to criminals that Salt Lake neighborhoods are strong, unified."

Each city celebrated a little differently.

About 3,000 participated in Salt Lake City's 12 neighborhood council get-togethers. Neighborhoods celebrated diversity with cultural food and dance.

"The mayor rode in a parade in west Salt Lake, and about 400 people participated," Nguyen said. "There were 35 entries. The mayor was grand marshal for the parade. They had a huge party after the parade with lots and lots of food."

In Sandy, police attended neighborhood gatherings in more than 20 neighborhoods said Sgt. Kevin Thacker. "We've had an unlucky year as far as violent crimes, with the homicides. And we've had a chance to talk to people. Some people wonder how safe the city is."

Thacker said police told people that out of the five homicides in the city this year, only one was random and that "the rest were business partners, family members — people who were close to them. Not some stranger."

Despite the high homicide rate this year, Thacker said he wanted to emphasize Sandy's low crime rate relative to the city's population. Sandy is generally not known for violent crimes, and Thacker said police discussed nonviolent crimes also, like how to deal with a vehicle burglary.

Murray has participated in the Night Out for several years and Police Detective Rob Hall said this year's celebration, in the making for six months, was "the best one yet."

The city had events Monday and Tuesday nights. Booths were set up to dispense information on various topics. Residents walked through the city's streets to show unity.

"We're so enthused about being involved in it because we're such a community-driven police department," Hall said."

Tammy Kikuchi, a spokeswoman for West Valley City, said the city also had two Nights Out — one to raise awareness for the second. She called both nights successful.

About 700 people attended a Night Out kickoff at Centennial Park on July 25, she said.

On Tuesday night, West Valley police attended neighborhood parties. They "ranged from live bands, games, yard beautification contests, potlucks, barbecues and a children's parade. A lot of them asked for police help for a K-9 demonstration."

She said Night Out was great for neighborhood unification. "You live in a neighborhood and you don't really know your neighbors. You don't know their names."

E-mail: lhancock@desnews.com