Night Out brings north Nashville neighbors together

Tuesday, August 3, 2010 at 11:27pm

Just north of downtown, not a week after police arrested a 14-year-old suspect in the murder of another 14-year-old, residents from four neighborhoods joined to stand against crime.

Residents from the Germantown, Hope Gardens, Buena Vista and Salemtown neighborhoods gathered Tuesday night at the corner of Jefferson Street and Rosa L. Parks Boulevard to network with police, firemen and council members for National Night Out.

Similar events took place at various locales around Nashville as part of the city’s 16th year to participate in the national event.

At the North End neighborhoods event, Jason Powell, president of the Hope Gardens Neighborhood Association, and District 19 Councilwoman Erica Gilmore acknowledged the work of the Central Precinct for being named Precinct of the Year for 2009 in June.

But in accepting the praise, Central Precinct Cmdr. Damien Huggins alluded to “recent tragedies,” one of which left 14-year-old Vincent Lewis dead in early July and another 14-year-old facing a homicide charge after his mother turned him over to police last week.

He asked the neighbors to stand with the police department to fight crime and keep an eye on their community as only they can.

“If y’all refuse to accept it in your community, we’ll be standing there beside you to make sure that it goes away,” Huggins said.

Janeen Griffin, of Fourth Avenue North in Salemtown, said the night was about “rallying around the community and really creating a safer community where we are truly connected … where we look out for one another, keep each other informed and really try to tackle any bad elements that may arise.”

Griffin said the drop in the Central Precinct’s overall crime is a reflection of the neighborhoods’ being proactive in reaching for the phones when they suspect criminal activity.

Huggins told The City Paper the National Night Out was more than anything about promoting interaction and communication among the different neighborhood and public safety groups.

Looking at the crowd — about 30 or so neighbors most of them in their mid-30s, several with children — gathered for the evening, Huggins said when that many extra people are dedicated to watching over their community and don’t hesitate to call police over any suspicion it’s like adding so many sets of eyes and ears to the police force.

“There’s not a better system than including a community in crime fighting.”