J.J. France sang the loudest Sunday afternoon when he and about a dozen other children of the Dumfries Kids, a youth choir, performed at National Night Out at the Dumfries Shopping Center.
Although his tongue was green from licking a ring pop, just as the choir sang “I Believe I Can Fly,” the 6-year-old ignored the candy when it came time to perform.
“It was fun singing and dancing,” J.J. said as he returned his attention to the candy after the song and his family took turns hugging him and expressing their pride in his performance.
J.J., his family and about 100 other people gathered in the shopping center parking lot to participate in the event designed to send a message to criminals that citizens are watching and to promote National Night Out which is Tuesday.
Prince William Police Chief Charlie T. Deane said a police motorcade visited area neighborhoods Saturday and Sunday to remind people to turn on their porch lights Tuesday evening to show that they care about their neighborhoods, to heighten crime- and drug-prevention awareness and to strengthen neighborhood spirit.
“The police are there to establish relationships and encourage people to call who might be reluctant to call if they see something suspicious,” Deane said of the weekend-long event.
Judging by the response in different neighborhoods it appeared that the motorcade, complete with McGruff the Crime Dog, worked.
Neighborhood watches everywhere threw parties wherever the motorcade stopped.
Prince William police Officer Elaine Bostick of the Crime Prevention Unit said that was the whole idea behind the motorcade.
“It gets neighborhoods to become more cohesive,” she said of the event that brings neighbors out to meet those who participate in neighborhood programs.
“One of the biggest things they do encourage, in addition to whatever’s being done on a daily basis, is that they hold a block party, that they hold some sort of fun day for the neighborhood,” Bostick said.
“This is also so they can get to know the officers. This is an opportunity for them to meet the officers and learn a little bit about crime reporting, and when to call the police and to understand that we are here for them,” Bostick said.
Lisa Stover, a resident of Georgetown Village, videotaped the event in her neighborhood.
“It’s nice to keep the kids out of trouble and to bring the community together,” Stover, 34, said.
Attiyya Ingram, coordinator of the Heather Glen neighborhood watch, hoped the event in her neighborhood would provide a few more recruits to add to the 10 block captains already on her crew.
“For people to see we’re out here we’re doing this and now with the support from the whole Prince William Police Department, I’m sure we’ll get some people to sign up,” Ingram said.
As a part of the event, the Prince William Police Department’s Crime Prevention Unit will collect cellular phones at the Potomac Cannons games through Aug. 8. to distribute to neighborhood watch groups and victims of domestic violence.