Carrie Crawley stepped up to the Safe Kids Gwinnett booth, her little boy in tow. She was bound and determined to gather as much information as she could at Lilburn's annual National Night Out event.
She had not decided to go to the community celebration until the last minute, but frankly, she was glad that she did. As a mother of two, including one on the way, being at proved helpful and encouraging, she said.
"I'm really big on safety," said the 36-year-old mom, stepping away from the Safe Kids booth. "The world we live in now, it's scary."
Crawley was among scores of Lilburn residents, who brought their families to National Night Out on August 7, 2012. The effort was: hosted by the , sponsored by the , and organized by SafetySmart Lilburn.
According to an organizer, more than 50 vendors took part in the evening's activities. Officials said about 30 of those vendors were safety related, including police departments, firefighters and hospitals.
Rain threatened briefly from above, but it held out allowing parents like Crawley to get the full effect of the event. "The more you can spread the word, the better," she said.
Chief Bruce Hedley said that's what the department tries to accomplish with community events, such as this. With 16 active neighborhood watch groups in the city, he knows that community awareness is vital to the police department's efforts in protecting the public.
"Anytime that you can bring multiple segments of the community together in one place, in the same setting and discuss common ideas and solutions to problems that exist in the community it's a win-win," he said.
Lynette Howard, the area Gwinnett County commissioner, chimed in as she stood near the chief: "If nothing else, for the children to know what they look like when they're in uniform, so they're not scared."
Keeping that line of communication open helps police officers discover problems that they did not know about, and it increases the quality of life of the city's residents, Hedley added.
Margot Ashley, president of SafetySmart Lilburn, said the event went well.
"It's just fabulous," she said of people taking part. "It's so cool to have people who are willing to be involved in their community."
Most people understand that they need to be involved, and be the "eyes and ears" that assist law enforcement, but there are still more that need to get the message, Ashley said.
"The police do a great job, but they cannot be everywhere at every time," she said. "It's really important for the people in the neighborhood to be watching out for each other and watching out for suspicious activity that's going on."