National Night Out Against Crime

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Rockford's Deborah Heinkel gets fired up about protecting her neighborhood, and is thrilled to hear others share similar enthusiasm.

"It's very exciting, because I see the concern, and I see people trying to keep one another. I see a lot of negatives, but on the other hand, I see a lot of positives," Heinkel said.

Those positive vibes between neighbors and law enforcement were abundant Tuesday night, at Rockford's 22nd annual National Night Out. More than 60 city neighborhood organizations mingled, shared ideas and even helped residents get new watch groups in motion.

"There's been drug dealing at this park over here and a few other things with dirt bikes at this park over here that don't need to be here. There's been some things done about that, but sometimes at night there are a lot of people running. It just needs to be looked at real good," Bert Perry said.

Area officers say they can't say thanks enough to the neighborhood watch groups, who admit their passionate efforts are getting stronger each year.

"We depend on them heavily to give us the information that's needed to bring whoever did whatever to justice. So they're our eyes and our ears," Deputy Chief of Special Operations Theo Glover said.

Eyes and ears make up the heart and soul of grassroots crime prevention.