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Lathrop residents say NNO strengthens neighborhoods
Chester Smith chats with neighbors while Spencer Oberman scans the block happenings on Cambridge Drive. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL

LATHROP — Sandra Garcia didn’t know very many people when she moved to Lathrop a year ago.

But thanks to National Night Out – a coast-to-coast event sponsored by law enforcement geared towards promoting the neighborly aspect of neighborhoods – the mother of two didn’t have to wait long before she knew exactly who it was that lived next door and across the street.

She got the chance to rekindle those friendships again on Tuesday when Lathrop residents took to the streets to promote a sense of community and take a stand against crime.

“It’s a great chance for everybody to get to know each other and see what’s going on in the area,” she said. “It really helped me out when I moved here a year ago. It made a big difference.”

With representatives from Lathrop Police Services and the Lathrop-Manteca Fire District visiting block parties throughout the community, residents like Tony Martin waited patiently until local dignitaries and public safety personnel stopped by his Mingo Way home.

Grilling ribs on the grill and entertaining neighbors in his driveway, the longtime Lathrop resident – who was celebrating his 14th National Night Out with wife Cindy – said he looks forward to the event every year as a chance to slow down and rebuild the bonds that help keep the neighborhood strong.

“We try to get together a couple of times a year – everybody has busy lives today,” Martin said. “But getting everybody together to say hi and get reacquainted is a good time. It lets us all know that we’re all here watching out for one another. That’s what this is all about.”

And standing strong in the name of community is what the event is all about.

While some cities opt for a more centrally-located gathering – Ripon once again invited residents over to the Community Center for a police and city-sponsored event that is sponsored by a handful of local businesses – Lathrop offers both individual block parties as well as a community event at City Hall.

The one-two punch, says Lathrop Police Sergeant James Hood, allows for the residents to show that they’re serious about standing tall against criminal elements.

“It’s an event that truly brings the city together and shows that we’re here to take back our community,” he said. “Throughout the year we encourage people, if they see anything that looks suspicious, to call us and let us know. This event is where people know what car is supposed to be in front of that house. It’s a chance to build unity with your neighbors, and it’s a great thing to see.”