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Southeast Neighbors “Light Up The Night”

Police Chief Chris Perkins and neighborhood volunteers enjoy a moment together before setting out.

About 60 people walked through the Belmont neighborhood last week, asking neighbors to turn on their porch lights to deter crime. Amy Morgan with the Belmont Neighborhood Association says, “If they didn’t have a light bulb we offered them one.”

 Morgan says residents were happy to see the crowd. “They were very receptive.  Several of them wanted to talk to police officers.  We had code enforcement so there were people there that could answer questions if they had an . . . But they were very receptive to turning on the light.  When we finished you could see a lot of the porch lights on.”

 She hopes her neighbors will continue to turn on their porch lights each night.  “The neighbors are trying to come together to improve our quality of life and improve our neighborhood, just by helping one another.”

 City Police, City Council members, Code Enforcement officials, and citizens join together several times a year to walk various city neighborhoods and talk with the residents about any concerns they have.  Representatives from the nearby Rescue Mission also took part in the walk.

 Tim Jones is the Deputy Chief of Operations for the Roanoke Police Department.  “This is one of a series of neighborhood walk-thrus that we like to do quarterly. It was basically focused to call awareness to folks who live in the Belmont neighborhood because of what their role is in crime prevention and neighborhood watch and to encourage folks to call the police and stay in contact with members of the neighborhood . . . [We had] a tremendous turnout.  A matter of fact, we divided into four different teams and each one had representatives from various city departments.”

 City Councilman Court Rosen also took part.  “I think the residents, regardless of the part of town that you’re in, like to see their government officials, whether that’s the police whether that’s folks from code enforcement, whether it’s somebody from City Council; I think that it gives folks a sense that there are faces behind the departments in the city and that there are folks who care within each department and there are people that perform these roles on behalf of the city.  I think folks appreciate that and I think it gives them a sense of comfort.”

 He says most residents have the same concerns.  They want safe neighborhoods, eye sores taken care of, safe roads and sidewalks and timely trash pickup.

 Kyle Edgell from the Rescue Mission said, “Our goals are the same – to have safe neighborhoods and safe places for our kids.” Officials and guests of the Rescue Mission also took part because the walk was adjacent to their building.

She says, “There was a lot I learned about the city and the neighborhoods just by walking along with these folks as they talked to people and did their jobs.  And I was really impressed with what the city tries to do behind the scenes – not only just with the light bulbs but as a means to be involved in the neighborhood and [to]take care of the problems that might arise that people are complaining about.”

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