Staff Photo: Jonathan Phillips. Garrett Bailey and his brother Jackson learn to stop, drop and roll during the National Night Out in Lilburn on Tuesday. National Night Out is an annual event designed to strengthen communities by encouraging neighborhoods to engage in relationships with each other and local emergency response personnel. The event offered fire and personal safety demonstrations as well as a K-9 demonstration, emergency vehicles and local Lilburn neighborhood watches.
LILBURN -- The city of Lilburn participated in National Night Out, a yearly event aimed at safety education and crime prevention, for the first time Tuesday.
With demonstrations, exhibits and other displays from Lilburn police, Gwinnett County fire and rescue, the Gwinnett County Sheriff's Department and neighborhood watch groups all present, visitors mingled and formed bonds with those that help protect them.
"The people are loving it," Lilburn police spokesman Capt. Bruce Hedley said. "They're really understanding how much a partnership can mean to a small city like Lilburn."
A burgeoning neighborhood watch system ("from zero five years ago to 12 today," Hedley said) has already led the way toward an increased relationship between Lilburn residents and their police and fire departments.
Tuesday's inaugural event was aimed at strengthening that connection further.
"One of the things that I like seeing is that there are so many people that have come out," said Lane Bailey, technically a Stone Mountain resident but active in the Lilburn area.
"There's a lot of community spirit in Lilburn."
The city also announced plans Tuesday for a new nonprofit organization, SafetySmart Lilburn, that will soon promote safety education and crime prevention.
Lilburn will also become a member of www.CrimeReports.com, a crime-mapping website where residents can simply type in an address and view detailed information about crime going on in the surrounding areas, Hedley said.
Tuesday night, Mayor Diana Preston stressed the continued need for citizen awareness and participation in the fight against crime.
"What everybody really likes is the rules for forming a neighborhood watch are you just need two people," Lilburn Mayor Diana Preston said. "You don't need 50 or 60 percent ... That's a start and it just grows."
"This is one way to get neighborhoods healthy and keep them healthy."