Orange Grove will host National Night Out on Oct. 7 to encourage the community to come together and show their support to fight crime, Orange Grove Police Chief Karl Van Slooten said.

“This gives the community a chance to come and meet the officers,” Van Slooten said. “Sandia, along with Judge (Karin) Knolle and the Sandia Volunteer Fire Department will help out to combine the two communities for this one event.”

This will be the first National Night Out event for Orange Grove, Van Slooten said. It will start at 7 p.m. at the Orange Grove Volunteer Fire Department.

Hot dogs, hamburgers and other items will be provided as refreshments, and children will have the opportunity to be part of Project I.D., which allows parents to take their child’s fingerprints for their records. Van Slooten explained, in the event that a child is lost, parents will be able to use their copy of the child’s fingerprints to help with identification.

Pamphlets will also be available with crime prevention tips. Van Slooten said the department will also be signing up local residents who wish to participate in a new citizen’s police academy the department plans on starting after the first of the year.

“We’ve found people to teach the classes, and I think it would be good for the community,” Van Slooten said.

Van Slooten said he hopes to see several hundred residents attend.

“Hopefully it will be big the first year, I don’t know,” Van Slooten said. “I’d love to have 500 people there, but for a first year event, you never can tell.”

In other police news, during the recent Hurricane Ike scare, Van Slooten increased the number of patrols in and around the city, to make sure boarded up properties were protected. He estimated that anywhere from 10 to 15 percent of the homes and businesses in Orange Grove were boarded up or secured during hurricane preparations.

Van Slooten said he was proud of his officers, who stepped up and stayed longer in order to ensure the safety of Orange Grove residents during the voluntary evacuation.

Despite the availability of buses, which were parked and waiting for evacuees, Van Slooten said of the more than two dozen residents called in the areas special needs list, none utilized the buses.

“No one left on the buses, but they were there and ready,” Van Slooten said. “I’m really pleased on how the community came together.”