Biloxi block party helping protect the community

By Karen Abernathy - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Residents in East Biloxi had their first block party to bring their community together and to help fight crime. It's part of the Hope Community Development Agency's Block Captain program. Residents hope their efforts will make their community a safer place to live.

"We want people to be aware there's something they can do, and you don't have to be fearful and stay in your house. Get involved and let the children get involved in the community," says Johnis Ross, Block Captain.

That's exactly what these children did at Saturday's block party on Quevas Road, whether they were enjoying the water slide on this hot summer day or braving the heat and shooting hoops.

"We wanted parents to come, but they mostly sent the children. So maybe that's a start, most of the children on this street are here."

Johnis Ross is a block captain and organizer of this block party where residents from a four block area were invited to come and get to know their neighbors and share ideas.

"Our major goal is to get the residents to know about their community and to be concerned about their area," Ross says.

The block captain concept stems from the Hope Community Development Agency, founded by executive director and ward two councilman Bill Stallworth.

"The block system is divided into 24 quadrants in East Biloxi with block captains assigned on most streets," Stallworth says. "The community needs to become more in power, so this was the best system to make that happen, neighbors working together to solve common problems they have."

Stallworth says since they started the Block Captain program, crime is down.

"Crime has reduced dramatically in this area since the storm, and even areas that were heavily crime ridden before Katrina are better now," Stallworth says. "This is a great area to live."

And he hopes more events like this will help that trend continue for years to come.

Block Captains say the system not only improves communication and helps fight crime, they also plan to use it to spread information about hurricane preparedness in their neighborhoods.

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