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Cops on the Block

Fairfax County Police join hundreds of neighbors at National Night Out events.

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McGruff, the crime fighting canine, stands firm as he joins forces with Fairfax County police officers at the West Springfield District Station on Tuesday, Aug. 7 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of National Night Out. Springfield Supervisor Pat Herrity (in green shirt), Braddock Supervisor John Cook (in blue shirt) and Braddock School Board member Megan McLaughlin, (standing next to Herrity) also attended several NNO events.

“Is that a real gun?”

His eyes wide with excitement, 7-year-old Mauro Vargas ran up to Officer Ron Manzo the minute he spotted the blue uniform at the Ravensworth Baptist Church in Springfield on Tuesday, Aug. 6.

“Is it heavy? Do you ever have to shoot people? Can I see it?” Vargas quickly asked Manzo.

After a short lesson on gun safety, Vargas told Manzo he wanted to be a police officer when he grew up.

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Chef Phil Davis supervises Braddock Supervisor John Cook as he flips burgers during Bonnie Brae’s National Night Out celebration on Tuesday, Aug. 6. Civic association president Nancy Davis (left) and Anne Riege, former civic association president, take part in the fun.

“I want to fight crime and keep people safe,” he said.

“Talking to this little boy about being a police officer was a great way to start the night off. It’s what this night is all about,” Manzo said.

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Gigi Lucero (left) and her big sister Cecilia, 4 (right), got tattoos during Middleridge’s National Night Out celebration on Tuesday, Aug. 6. Dad Joe Lucero (far right) and mom Kelly (holding Cecilia) said the annual NNO event is one of the highlights of the neighborhood.

Manzo, a Fairfax County police officer based in the West Springfield Police district, was at the church for an ice-cream social to celebrate National Night Out (NNO), an event designed to strengthen community connections within neighborhoods and to heighten awareness of crime prevention issues. Along with Supervisor John Cook (R-Braddock) and Fairfax County School Board member Megan McLaughlin, Manzo attended 10 neighborhood NNO events Tuesday night.

He was one of the hundreds of Fairfax County police officers, firefighters and other first responders who joined communities across the county in recognition of the 30th annual National Night Out. Sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch and Target Corporation, crime prevention officers in Fairfax County have worked to help coordinate local events all year long.

While the threat of rain kept the crowd count down, residents still enjoyed dozens of pool parties, picnics, parades, concerts and carnivals across Fairfax County.

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George Mason University provided an information table during Middleridge’s annual NNO bash, one of the largest in the county. From left, Traci Claar, director of the Office of GMU’s Community and Local Government Relations, and Sarah Gallagher, assistant director in the Office of Community Relations, handed out literature on GMU to visitors throughout the evening.

“This is what makes our neighborhoods great places to live, people coming together to celebrate National Night Out,” Cook said to residents at several NNO events. “We are lucky to have really active neighborhood watch programs throughout Fairfax County.”

Captain Joe Hill of the West Springfield Police Department said when neighbors notice and report suspicious activity, it immediately helps keep criminal activity low. “Good neighbors are the best defense against crime in a community,” Hill said.

Hill attended several events with Supervisor Pat Herrity (R-Springfield), who ended the evening at the Colchester Road Neighborhood Watch event.

“These events are a great way to meet your neighbors and keep your neighborhood safe,” Herrity said.

Fairfax’s Middleridge neighborhood hosts one of the largest and most elaborate NNO events in the county, with carnival rides, a band and information kiosks provided by various organizations throughout the county. Delegate David Bulova (D-37) and his wife, Gretchen, started the Middleridge party 17 years ago.

Joe Lucero, who attended the event with his wife, Kelly, and two young daughters, said Middleridge was a strong family neighborhood. “People look out for one another. This is one of our favorite events,” Lucero said.

Fairfax has more than 600 neighborhood watches throughout the county, with the longest sustained Neighborhood Watch program in the nation. Learn more about National Night Out at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/police/nno/ or by contacting the crime prevention officer at your local district station.

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McGruff, the crime fighting canine, prepares for the 30th anniversary of National Night Out in Burke accompanied by County Supervisors John Cook (R-Braddock) and Pat Herrity (R-Springfield) and Braddock School Board member Megan McLaughlin.

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Braddock School Board representative Megan McLaughlin and longtime Stone Haven resident Charlie Dane chat during the neighborhood’s NNO event on Tuesday, Aug. 6.

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Mauro Vargas, 7, tells Officer Ron Manzo of the West Springfield Police Department that he wants to be a police officer when he grows up. Vargas met the police officer during the National Night Out ice-cream social at Ravensworth Baptist Church in Springfield on Tuesday, Aug. 6.