LOMPOC - The city of Lompoc has seen a decrease in crime for 2011.
From January to June of this year, the city has had a single homicide, 17 reported rapes, nine robberies and more than 100 burglaries, aggravated assaults and cases of grand larceny. That number is down more than 13% from 2010. Part of that success, can be attributed to community outreach.
One community outreach program the city holds is National Night Out. Tuesday marked the 28th national event. The city closed down part of 4th Street for the it. It's an area known as a high crime spot and is home to two gangs.
"This area isn't necessarily the worst neighborhood in town," Officer Lucas Signorelli told Your Central Coast News, "but we've had numerous crimes in the area including vandalism, burglary, assaults and a lot of gang violence."
4th Street near Pioneer Park was specifically chosen to hold the event, because of its high crime rate. The hope is to send a message to criminals that they are no longer welcomed in that part of the city. As Officer Signorelli put it, "We come out and we put on a party for the neighborhood to say goodbye to drugs and violence."
Free food and games for National Night Out was provided by Foursquare Church in Lompoc. As a longtime supporter of the annual event, church pastor Bernie Federman says he hopes the event is able to connect with the children.
"We've been helping out with National Night Out for 10 years," Federman said, "Hopefully [kids] will turn to these police officers instead of turning to crime. That's our hope."