08/04/04 — Shower doesn't dampen National Night Out

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Shower doesn't dampen National Night Out

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on August 4, 2004 2:01 PM

A late-afternoon shower Tuesday forced the cancellation of the entertainment, but it did not dampen the spirits of those who attended the annual National Night Out program at Herman Park.

"It was a wonderful turnout," said Goldsboro police Cpl. Teresa Cox, one of the organizers. "People still had a good time talking ..."

The entertainment, except the Tribe of Judah, was canceled, because the organizers did not want to damage the donated and rain-dampened sound system and to have the young entertainers strain their voices. So the Eastern Wayne High School band's National Night Out debut also was canceled.

Those who waited about 40 minutes until the shower passed heard inspiring remarks from Robin Pendergraft, the first woman director of the State Bureau of Investigation.

"Law enforcement needs your eyes, ears and support," Ms. Pendergraft said. Crime "is not a law-enforcement problem. It's a community problem."

She said neighbors must look out for one another because law authorities have limited manpower. She urged them to be resolute in the face of the cynics and the apathetic.

"Who will do it if we don't do it ourselves," she said. "ƒ As law enforcement, we need you just as you need us to make your community safe."

Ms. Pendergraft said the same watchful eyes that prevent neighborhood crime also can prevent terrorism. She said an elderly woman told police in London about suspicious behavior in her neighborhood. Her information helped police arrest a terrorist.

"You, too, can make a difference with your information with your eyes in what you see and then reporting it to the proper authorities," she said.

The goal of the 12th annual Wayne County program was to give crime and drugs a going-away party and to show that communities were organized and fighting back against criminals. It was sponsored by the Goldsboro Police Department, the Wayne County Sheriff's Office and the Goldsboro Housing Authority.

County leaders opened the program with brief remarks. Sheriff Carey Winders also said law enforcement cannot fight the battle alone and needed citizens "to help make the city and county safer. Together we can make a difference."

Goldsboro Police Chief Tim Bell and Mayor Al King also thanked the crowd for its attendance and support. Bell presented a plaque to Harvest Fellowship Church for preparing free food again.

The other police organizer, Cpl. H.L. Lewis, estimated the turnout at about 700 and added, "It's not the crowd we've been having, but it was good considering the rain."

Displays from law enforcement agencies and community organizations also drew numerous visitors.

The SBI brought three vehicles, including the arson investigation van with Special Agent J.E. Umphlet and his dog, Earl, a black Labrador retriever. Umphlet put down a drop of kerosene, and Earl found it quickly and earned a treat each time.

Umphlet explained that Earl was obtained from the federal government. He said the dog is considered a law-enforcement officer. If Earl were assaulted, he said, the defendant could be sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Other law-enforcement displays included the sheriff's dive team van and the Fire Department's fire safety house. The Seymour Johnson Air Force Base security police and Mount Olive and Walnut Creek police also attended.

To begin the program, the Crime Stoppers police coordinator, Sgt. Dot Ardes, welcomed the crowd, the police Honor Guard presented the colors, Michael Atkins sang the national anthem, Cierra Harris led the pledge, and the Rev. Henry Parker offered the invocation. Miss Goldsboro, Bridgett Mooring, introduced the local speakers. Special Agent-in-Charge Dennis Honeycutt introduced Ms. Pendergraft.