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Pal around with cops, eat some ribs, and talk teen crime.

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Cleveland joins more than 11,000 U.S. and Canadian cities at the 24th-annual National Night Out program to help wipe out violent crime. Organizer Matt Peskin says it’s all about looking out for your neighbors. “You don’t have to love them,” he says. “But if you know who they are, you can keep an eye on them, and that keeps criminals out of neighborhoods.” @cal body 1:Peskin, founder of the National Association of Town Watch, says that residents used to watch out for suspicious folks all the time back in the day. “Criminals didn’t have a chance, because somebody would call the police,” he says. Tonight’s crime-prevention fair looks a lot like a block party, with citizens mingling with police over barbecue and ice cream. This year’s agenda focuses on teen gangs. “Kids get guns, and boom -- they shoot,” says Peskin. “You’re not going to stop it until you get the guns out of their hands.” Police departments throughout the nation claim that the number of 911 calls they receive spikes after each year’s fests -- mostly because residents feel more comfortable reporting crimes to cops they’ve met, says Peskin. “It’s OK to be neighborly,” he says. “If you see somebody strange in the driveway, you’re far more likely to call the police after National Night Out than you were beforehand.”
Tue., Aug. 7, 6-9 p.m.

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