Community leaders, local law enforcement discuss National Night Out


COLUMBUS, Ohio -- National Night Out is an annual event where communities all across the country come together with police to build safer neighborhoods. It’s celebrating 35 years this year.

List of celebrations across central Ohio​

CrimeTracker 10’s Angela An sat down with community leaders and law enforcement to find out more about the mission, the impact, and what comes next.

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Chief Joe Morbitzer, Westerville Division of Police

Chief Morbitzer began his career in law enforcement with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office in 1982. He was promoted to the rank of corporal in 1985.

In 1986 he accepted a position with the Westerville Division of Police. Rising through the ranks, he provided leadership to each bureau in the division. In 2000 he was elevated to the rank of Deputy Chief where he managed the daily operations of the division. In December of 2004 he was named interim Chief of Police. He was promoted to Chief of Police in 2005.

Chief Morbitzer has been recognized for his efforts supporting Ohio Special Olympics, receiving the Ohio Special Olympics “Award of Merit”. He has also received the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police “Michael J. Kelley Award of Excellence and Innovation in Policing.” Under his direction, the Westerville Division of Police has been awarded the Ohio Attorney General’s “Meritorious Achievement” Award on five occasions for crime solving and crime prevention initiatives.

Rebecca Gaytko, President, Ohio Crime Prevention Association (OCPA)

The Ohio Crime Prevention Association is one of the largest state crime prevention associations. OCPA is a non-profit organization with a volunteer Board. OCPA encourages partnerships between all members of the community, recognizing that we will not be successful in preventing crime all by ourselves. It requires all of us to engage “best practice” strategies for preventing crime and stopping situation that might victimize our community.

OCPA teaches courses and “Train the Trainer” classes to equip citizens, businesses, and faith communities how to understand their capacity for preventing crime and avoid becoming a victim of crime.

OCPA teaches a 3-day course with foundational information for citizens and law enforcement officers to be successful crime prevention Practioner, as well as other classes such as Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED). OCPS brings together academia with practical application.

Felicia Saunders, Community Activist

Felicia Saunders is the president of the Easthaven Civic Association Blockwatch in east Columbus. She became an advocate for safety when her son, Anthony Sowers, was killed in 2009. He was barely 22 years old. Felicia says the summer her son was murdered, there were 5 other homicides of young adults. Her mission is to help kids understand the value of life and make their neighborhoods safer. Felicia is also part of the Think Make Live Organization. The purpose is to identify the challenges and barriers that you have to overcome as you adapt to sudden change and/or transition into a changed lifestyle. The g...oal is to provide participants with motivational advise, create goal setting resilience solutions and direct resource connections to help them overcome their own personal challenges and barriers.

Think Make Live is hosting a 3rd annual youth summit in August. Sign up here.