December 21, 2014

Elyria
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31°F
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‘Goodbye, crime’

Sheffield Twp. holds Night Out in wake of crimes

SHEFFIELD TWP. — See you later. Adios. Sayonara. There are lots of different ways to say it, but on Tuesday night, Sheffield Township chose to say goodbye to crime.

A mini-festival was held inside the township hall on Clinton Avenue to show community support against criminal activity.

EMT Richard Dennis sits in a fire truck with his daughter Megan at the Night Out event.

“We’re giving crime in Sheffield Township a going-away party,” said township trustee Chad Parsons, who organized the event. “We’re showing we are one community.”

Earlier this year, the township was hit by a rash of break-ins that scared residents, many of whom are elderly and had never locked their doors a day in their lives. Parsons began looking for ways to reassure residents that their community was safe and decided to solicit help from the well-known event, National Night Out.

“I was overwhelmed with the outpour of the community after all that happened,” Parsons said. “I didn’t want to take two steps back.”

National Night Out was begun 24 years ago by the Department of Justice as a way to inform people about steps they can take to prevent and avoid crime. It takes place every year on a specific day in communities across the country, including several in Lorain County.

From 6 to 9 p.m., sheriff’s deputies and firefighters spoke to hundreds of residents one-on-one and filled their hands with pamphlets and information about better protecting themselves.

“I want them to get to know their safety forces,” Parsons said. “If these guys come in to their house at 3 a.m., I want them to be reassured that they are safe.”

Waite Staller, a 79-year-old resident who has lived in the county all his life, said the event was desperately needed because of all the crimes about which he reads.

“You never know anymore,” he said. “It’s like the councilmen say in Cleveland: ‘We have to take our city back.’ ”

Families enjoyed food and several activities, including going through a mobile home used by firefighters to practice rescuing people.

Firefighters filled the home with smoke and let children go through it, teaching them to crawl to reach the outside safely.

The National Night Out celebration was intended to act as the kickoff event for a townshipwide neighborhood watch program that Parsons is starting, but it may become a mainstay. 

“I hope this is the start of a great thing,” Parsons said. “This is something I hope we do every year."

Contact Adam Wright at 653-6257 or awright@chroniclet.com.