08/01/04 — SBI director to speak at Night Out gathering

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SBI director to speak at Night Out gathering

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on August 1, 2004 2:07 AM

The director of the State Bureau of Investigation will open Wayne County's annual National Night Out program on Tuesday night at Herman Park.

Robin P. Pendergraft, the first woman to head the SBI, will speak soon after the 6 p.m. opening ceremonies.

The goal of the 12th annual National Night Out program is to unite law-enforcement agencies and neighborhoods and to give crime and drugs a going-away party.

Law-enforcement displays, special entertainment, information booths from organizations and free refreshments will be provided.

The program is sponsored by the Goldsboro Police Department, Wayne County Sheriff's Office and Goldsboro Housing Authority.

National Night Out has four goals -- to heighten awareness of crime and drug prevention; to generate support for, and participation in, anti-crime efforts; to strengthen neighborhood spirit and police community partnerships, and to send a message to criminals that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.

Authorities are asking Wayne County residents to lock their doors, turn on their outdoor lights and spend an evening with neighbors and law-enforcement officials at Herman Park.

The program will begin with a welcome from Sgt. Dot Ardes, the police coordinator for Goldsboro-Wayne County Crime Stoppers; the presentation of the colors by the Police Department's Honor Guard; the singing of the national anthem by Michael Atkins, and the invocation by the Rev. Henry Parker, a Sheriff's Department chaplain.

Goldsboro Police Chief Tim Bell, Sheriff Carey Winders and Mayor Al King will follow with brief remarks.

King also has signed a proclamation declaring Tuesday as "National Night Out Day." The nationwide program, sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch, was started more than 20 years ago.

Other Wayne County public safety agencies that may participate include the Goldsboro Fire Department, Highway Patrol, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base security police, N.C. National Guard and other municipal police departments.

Ms. Pendergraft will be introduced by Dennis Honeycutt, the special agent in charge of the Northeast District. She joined the SBI in 2001 after serving as a special deputy attorney general in the law enforcement liaison section of the state Attorney General's Office. She had worked in the state Justice Department for about 14 years.

Before working in the AG's office, she was a research assistant to Associate Justice J. William Copeland of the N.C. Supreme Court and then an assistant district attorney in Durham County.

Ms. Pendergraft had earned her undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina and her law degree from Campbell University.

Following Ms. Pendergraft's speech, these entertainers are scheduled to perform: André Elliott, Cierra Harris, The Tribe of Judah, Scott and Vida Batson, Casey Sutton, the Pickle Festival Court, Jessica Cox, the Lincoln Homes Steppers and Bobby Ray Smith.

The Kiwanis Club's train also will carry passengers for free from 5:30 p.m. to about 8:30 p.m. The club also will sell refreshments from their concession stand.

This year the Eastern Wayne High School marching band will end the program with a performance at about 8:45 p.m. The Rev. Dr. Rick Cason, a police chaplain, will follow with the benediction.

The only other National Night Out program in Wayne County will be held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday in Pikeville. Police Chief Ken Barrett said the program will include a disc jockey, a tribute to the military, law-enforcement displays and refreshments.

Mount Olive, Fremont and Eureka have had National Night Out programs but will not have one this summer.