By Ed Brock
Crime prevention is the year-round mission of police officers, but October is the month they include the citizenry in accomplishing that mission.
The Riverdale and Morrow police departments have events planned for this month, Crime Prevention Month, that will teach civilians how to protect themselves from crime.
"We're going to be highlighting different activities each week," said Riverdale Assistant Police Chief Samuel Patterson.
It started Wednesday when Riverdale officers distributed free gun locks to shoppers at the Wal-Mart on Ga. Highway 85.
"We feel like this is an opportunity to educate the public on gun safety and save lives," Patterson said.
Riverdale Police Sgt. Terry Hargett is organizing the events of this month. On Friday the city's TRIAD group will host a meeting of the "Red Hat Club" for senior women at Riverdale City Hall at 10 a.m. Crime prevention tips will be the topic of the meeting.
On Oct. 8 the city will hold a bicycle rodeo in the parking lot of the police department at 6690 Church Street. On Oct. 20 and 21 the department will hold its "GREAT Skate" at Buster's Fun Factory Skating Rink on Highway 85, part of the Gang Resistance Education Training program. The Oct. 20 will be for elementary school students and the Oct. 21 event will be for middle school students.
And on Oct. 28, Hargett said, the month's activities will culminate with the All Saints/Treat Night at Travon Wilson Park. There will be 28 vendors to provide treats for trick-or-treating, a costume contest, a performance by the Riverdale High School Chorus and more activities.
"It's just a safe place for kids to come," Hargett said.
Also during October the city's neighborhood watch programs will have neighborhood walks instead of meetings.
"That means we walk through the neighborhood, hand out literature and help recruit for our neighborhood watches," Hargett said.
The Morrow Police Department will take advantage of October's cool weather to start up its more elaborate version of a neighborhood watch, the PROUD program. The program includes neighborhood clean ups and social gatherings, Morrow Police Chief Charlie Sewell said.
"It's basically just to get out and meet with the residents," Sewell said.
The PROUD groups also hold regular meetings outside to learn about crime prevention, said Lt. Ben Mance.
"The purpose of the fall meetings is to talk about holiday safety," Mance said.