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Best crime solution: Get neighbors involved
Annual GAIN Night coming up in October
By Jonathan Cooper

September 24, 2005

The police departments of both Chandler and Tempe are asking their cities’ residents to get off the back porches and onto the front porches—at least for one day next month.

As part of the Getting Arizona Involved in Neighborhoods (GAIN) event in which most Valley municipalities are participating, both cities are encouraging their residents to organize neighborhood block parties on Saturday, Oct. 22 in order to get to know the faces, vehicles and homes of their neighbors, and therefore be able to spot activity that doesn’t belong.

Chandler Police Sgt. Phil Graham, who is in charge of that city’s Crime Prevention Unit, said Chandler has only one goal for the event:

“We want neighbors to get out and meet each other.”

 To encourage participation—or at least to make it more entertaining—the Chandler Police Department is booking several popular features to appear at the parties. For children, McGruff the Crime Dog, Handy the Graffiti Buster, Darren the DARE Lion or the Safety Sadie the Clown can be booked.

Older attendees might be more entertained by visits from the show car, the department’s mobile command van or the SWAT team’s various robots and armored vehicles.

“We have a number of resources that will be out and about,” Graham said.

People interested in organizing a party and booking guests in Chandler should contact the Police Department at (480) 782-4633.

Tempe is also scheduling visitors to the parties. That city’s visitors will include the mayor and city council members, said Sgt. Dan Masters, Tempe police public information officer

“We’re definitely on board, and we’ll be participating in the game this year,” he said.

Tempe is holding an organizational meeting from 6 to 7 p.m. Sept. 23 at Pyle Center. It is designed to “make sure people are on the same page” about the event.

Tempe’s event will run from 4 to 8 p.m., Chandler’s from 2 to 7, both on Oct. 22.

GAIN is Arizona’s answer to the National Night Out, where cities and towns across the country organize similar events on one August night.

Since August is not the most desirable time for an outdoor gathering in Arizona, cities here have opted to participate on a more weather-friendly date any time throughout the month of October.

“This is just a way for us to interact with the community on a positive level, which is a refreshing change for us,” Chandler’s Sgt. Graham said.

Chandler police also made another change to their community outreach recently. The meetings that formerly were held in each beat—a small, usually 2- or 3-square-mile region patrolled by one officer—have been expanded to take place at the district level, each of which encompasses several smaller beats and is run by a higher-ranking lieutenant. 

The meetings serve as a bridge between citizens and police, allowing residents to voice their concerns and police to give crime prevention education.

The Kyrene Corridor sits in Chandler Police’s District 1. This district’s next meeting will take place at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 28, at the Windmills Inn, 3535 W. Chandler Blvd.

“It’s a way to keep that small town feel as Chandler grows so we don’t lose touch with the community,” said Chandler Police Det. Livi Kacic.

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