Night Out Event Focuses on Neighborhood, Senior Safety
Aug 30, 2016 03:43PM ● Published by Chris Larson
Charles Dunford of Connect Hearing, left, conducts a hearing test on Vickie Banks, right, at the West Valley City Night Out Against Crime Senior Safety & Health Fair on Aug. 15. - Chris Larson
Gallery: Night Out Event Focuses on Neighborhood, Senior Safety [2 Images] Click any image to expand.
The Night Out Against Crime initiative, founded in 1984, is a national effort funded by the United States Department of Justice to build community togetherness and unity by getting out and doing things together.
The other major objective of the Night Out Against crime is to help provide facetime with city police and city leaders and strengthen relations in a relaxed, one-on-one setting.
Craig Thomas, West Valley City Neighborhood Services director, said the West Valley Night Out program, which spanned all of August, is a city-wide effort to enable citizens to protect each other from those who want to commit crimes against the community.
Thomas said the Night Out campaign also helps to educate residents about safety programs provided to individuals and neighborhoods by the city and police department.
The Senior Safety & Health Fair brought together both city, county and state administrators to talk about health and safety programs as well as business vendors to demonstrate senior-specific goods and services, such as hearing aids and health supplements.
Charles Dunford of Connect Hearing offered free hearing assessments and hearing aid tune- ups to help people consider improving their hearing health.
“Improved hearing helps people live a little better,” Dunford said noting it improves communication with loved ones and associates.
He also said he provides preventative hearing loss products like custom ear plugs for airport employees and outdoor recreationists.
“[Seniors] are an important part of our community because they have a lot of knowledge and insight most of us don’t have within our neighborhoods,” Thomas said.
The city has been part of the National Night Out Against Crime since its inception 33 years ago. A few years ago, Thomas said, the city added the senior-focused event so there were additional resources and education opportunities for seniors, which make about 18 percent of West Valley’s population according to data on the city’s website.
Thomas said the event also acts as a magnification of the services provided to the senior community at the Harman Senior Recreation Center.
West Valley Police Detective Tony Tueller works with the community response unit. He said Senior Safety & Health Fair provided the police department to help grow the city’s Neighborhood Watch program.
“As a police department, we can’t function without the community what Neighborhood Watch does puts you in contact with the department and we teach that they are our eyes on the streets,” Tueller said.
People interested in starting a Neighborhood Watch group, contact the department and officers will help those volunteers get started with paperwork and statistical information about crime in the neighborhood.
Thomas said about half of the neighborhood watches in the city are run by senior citizens.
In conjunction with the Neighborhood Watch program, Tueller said the officers at the department’s booth taught event participants how to further protect themselves with the “See Something, Say Something” and “Stow It, Don’t Show It” programs.
“Don’t rely on someone else to make that call to the police department,” Tueller said of “See Something, Say Something.” “If you don’t then nothing is going to happen.”
He also said that hiding valuables kept in the home or the car is the best way to prevent burglaries of either piece of property.
But, “the biggest thing” Tueller said the police were educating the seniors at the event about was fraud prevention.
“If it’s too good to be true, it probably is,” Tueller said. “If there is ever a question let them know they will call you back and contact the police department to see if its legit or a scam.”
Tueller alluded to the fact that seniors have a unique generational culture that places a premium on politeness and makes it hard for them to say ‘no.’
The FBI’s website states that con artists exploit this generational culture as well as use fronts that are particularly relevant to seniors like vitamins, health care products, pharmaceuticals and inexpensive vacations.
“Senior citizens are most likely to have a “nest egg,” to own their home, and/or to have excellent credit—all of which make them attractive to con artists,” states the website, FBI.gov.
Seniors are less likely to report being a victim of fraud to authorities because they often don’t know they’re being scammed or are too ashamed to report.
“Elderly victims may not report crimes, for example, because they are concerned that relatives may think the victims no longer have the mental capacity to take care of their own financial affairs,” FBI.gov states.