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Bridging First Responders and Communities

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Georgetown Housing Authority party, Georgetown Volunteers in Police Robert Huey, Chief Nero, Mary Kuntz, Lex Shaw, Jo Williams and Christi Huey

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Gethsemane Community Center, Randy McDonald, Mayor Dale Ross, John McDuffie, Pastor Ron Swain

Georgetown’s National Night Out started for Chief Wayne Nero and Mayor Dale Ross at San Gabriel Village, a senior community near the downtown area. The Chief and Mayor did not announce their schedule ahead of time so the NNO-goers were pleasantly surprised to have honored guests. The pair visited seven parties in the course of the night.

Chief Nero reported the department had 61 parties registered in the city, which was up about 50 percent from last year. “We wanted to try to have a first responder at every party, and everyone who is not on patrol today is doing something for the Night Out program,” the Chief said.

Parties began about 4:30pm and continued until after dark in most places. The San Gabriel Village seniors also included a fundraiser at their event; selling chili plates to provide donations to the Susan G. Komen foundation for breast cancer awareness.

The Georgetown Housing Authority shared party space with the Boys and Girls Club and had about 250 coming and going throughout the night. They had a full buffet and a D.J. as well as a community resource fair hosting several service providers from Georgetown like The Caring Place and Opportunities for Williamson & Burnet Counties.

Mayor Ross said to several party groups,  “As mayor, I attend about 150 events in a year and this one is the most fun. I get all the best feedback directly from our neighborhoods and it is really great to know what is going on in all of them. It is also a good opportunity to get outside and get to know your neighbors. You can learn to look after them and they after you, so I am proud we are still the second safest city, in Georgetown, and we are constantly looking to solve even more issues.”

Chief Nero spoke several times of the importance of National Night Out. “The whole point of tonight is to get neighbors knowing neighbors; to get them all to be involved and engaged with each other. Nosy neighbors are my favorite thing because they do a lot of my job for me—getting people to know the families and faces of their neighborhood so they know when something is out of place.” He also encouraged everyone to call 9-1-1 when they see something suspicious, no matter how trivial it might seem. “That’s what we are here for and that’s why you pay taxes, so we can be here to answer the call. And we also want to hear about it if you do not receive the service or response that you needed.”

Mayor Ross agreed, “Chief Nero has transformed our force into one without mediocrity and with beat police who love you very much. Our officers work the same districts every day, so they know what is out of place.”

Christ Lutheran Church had a great turnout for their first party. Pastor Cheryl Lamaak hopes to build on the participation year after year. With chili, live music and face painting, they have a good start.

The late party near Shell Rd was going strong after sunset. Pastor Charlie Turner and wife Amanda played host to about 80 attendees on their home street. Turner said, “We have 36 kids just on this street, so it’s like this most nights. This is just another great excuse for us to get together.”

Police Update

Having the police chief as a captive audience between parties was a great opportunity to talk about recent events in Georgetown, namely the apprehension of kidnapper Silvestre Franco-Luciano, who is also wanted for murder in Dallas.

The deployment of the tactical response vehicle from Leander was unusual, and Nero explains any time a suspect is armed and potentially dangerous, regardless of the location, it is standard operation.

The Georgetown vehicle was unavailable at the time, but there are three such vehicles in the county as part of an agreement with the chiefs of Georgetown, Leander and Cedar Park.

“We are very pleased that it was a one-day story, because our officers did everything perfectly and by the book—no one was hurt. There was an incident, we investigated, got a lead, and executed the apprehension. There was no escalation in the news and that is the result of good and consistent training. Our focus is always building relationships and training, so when we have incidents like these, we have built up a trust to facilitate quick and safe solutions.”

Mayor Ross again thanked the citizens of Georgetown for the training facility and the training that made it happen. He also added there will be 500 more peacemaker signs coming out this week paid for by an anonymous donor. Keep an eye out for updates on WilcoOnline.com and our Facebook page.

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