Plainfield police make National Night Out personal


For the past ten years, police in Plainfield have been traveling neighborhood to neighborhood for National Night Out.

Tuesday, they continued that tradition, making sure homeowners know how to better protect against crime. They stopped by at least five local neighborhoods, arming homeowners with the knowledge they need to stay safe.

"It gets us out of our houses and it gets us to talk about the real issues that people are concerned about," said Plainfield resident Keith Blankenship.

Police officers give out crime data, sharing what kinds of crimes they're seeing around town.

Neighbor Jim Mirise took notes so he could share that information with the entire subdivision.

"There's been property crime. We've got home invasion. We've got some car break-ins," Mirise read off his notepad.

PHOTO: Plainfield police officer addressing a group of residents

Officers also gave tips on how to avoid becoming a victim, whether it's protecting against theft or the latest door-to-door scam. Turns out, they've had several "grandparent" scams over the phone, targeting elderly neighbors in a condo community and other scams involving fake charities in Blankenship's addition.

"The Plainfield Police Department has taught us what to ask for and what to identify, as far as the first question to ask is, 'Let me see the permit.' In Plainfield, you have to have a permit registered with the town," Blankenship explained. "So if they don't have that, we know it's a scam and without their involvement, never would have known that."

A lot of people are getting a lot out of this. When asked if National Night Out is helpful, every neighbor raised their hand.

PHOTO: WTHR's Jennie Runevitch polls residents and all say they benefited from Tuesday's National Night Out meetings

It's helpful for officers, too.

"They learn from us as much as what we can learn from them," Blankenship said.

Neighbors tell police which areas need more patrols and describe any dangerous activity they've noticed.

"We always need that information," said Plainfield Police Captain Jill Lees. "That could be the clue or break we're looking for to solve other crimes in town."

Homeowners who couldn't attend National Night Out will get emails with the crime data and summary of tips, so they benefit as well. Because in Plainfield, it's more than just one night out, it's about building long-term relationships with officers and neighbors to keep everyone safe.

"Communication is key," Mirise said. "The more you can get the entire community together, working together along with the police department, the safer you're going to be."

Another important message officers delivered Tuesday night - if you don't have a Crimewatch program, get one started.

The good news, Plainfield Police said they are getting a lot of requests from neighbors who want to start one.