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Banding Together

South Riding residents joined communities nationwide Tuesday, July 2, in telling criminals they are not welcome in

their neighborhoods during the 22nd Annual National Night Out.

The South Riding Neighborhood Watch group organized the celebration that promotes involvement in local crime and drug prevention activities, strengthens police-community partnerships, and encourages neighborhood camaraderie. This is the third year South Riding will celebrate the event.

Attending this year's celebration was Sheriff Steve Simpson, members of the Sheriff's Office Bloodhound Unit, Underwater Recovery Team, the K9 unit and representatives from Fire & Rescue services and the Virginia State Police.

Simpson encouraged residents to continue to show community spirit not just on National Night Out but every night.

"Get outside, meet your neighbors, start a neighborhood watch program in your own community, and talk to the deputies that patrol the streets on which you live," said Simpson, according to a Sheriff's Office press release.

At the event Simpson presented Sheriff's Auxiliary member Dianne Loftus with an award recognizing her for significant contributions to the unit over the past six years. Loftus is one of the original members of the Sheriff's Auxiliary Unit, whose mission is to supplement and support the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office in both operational and administrative areas to maximize the availability of deputy sheriffs.

The Sheriff's Auxiliary Unit is comprised of non-paid, non-sworn volunteers who do not have the authority to detain or arrest violators of the law but are expected to promptly report suspicious or illegal activities to deputy sheriff's or police.

National Night Out began in 1984 and involves more than 33 million people in more than 9,700 communities from all 50 states, U.S. territories, Canadian cities and military bases worldwide.

The Sheriff's Office encourages residents interested in organizing a Neighborhood Watch Group in their community to contact the Sheriff's Office Crime Prevention Unit at 703-771-5747.