STOCKTON, CA - With a rising tide of violence in Stockton, much of it blamed on drugs and gangs, police are counting on bringing neighborhoods together with the help of National Night Out.
Police hope that such community events will help curb crime.
In Stockton, there were 91 National Night Out block parties. Stockton police Chief Eric Jones said he headed to nine of those events.
With nearly 40 murders so far in the city, the National Night Out message is critical. Police need the community's support to get the job done. Police are counting on the community to be their eyes and ears to deter crime.
Jones said it starts with getting to know your neighbors.
"It's the first step, establishing community, in combating crime, and really bringing the streets back to the good citizens of Stockton," Jones said.
"The more people who are here. The more you get to know your neighbors, the more you know your friends, the better networking you have," said Robert Smith, who's working to form the Stockton Guardian Angels group. "The better your neighborhood is watched."
Meanwhile, Stockton police said they are are hiring as many as 20 officers to help crack down on crime. Between the promise of more officers and more unified neighborhoods, many people believe there's hope for change.
"We know it won't change over night," Jones said. "We know it's going to take some time. But you have to take it one step at a time."
Jones also wants to create a community advisory board to tackle Stockton's crime problems. He will hold a community meeting at the Stockton Memorial Civic Auditorium on Aug. 22.