Another kind of block watch briefly interrupted the S. Ogden Avenue Block Watch party last night.
A police helicopter circled overhead a couple of streets over, drowning out Justin Boggs’ rendition of New York,
New York on the karaoke machine.
The din served as a quick reminder. Punks, thugs and thieves didn’t take off for the 22 nd annual National Night
Out celebration, and neither did police.
Between verses, Boggs looked up at the chopper, but the 17-year-old continued with his song stylings undaunted.
With help from his mother, Lisa Boggs, Justin organized the Block Watch gathering in their Hilltop neighborhood, one of
19 outdoor parties across the city at which citizens reveled with police officers and community leaders to promote their anticrime
The party that closed part of Ogden Avenue for several hours included a COSI science demonstration; a horse from the Columbus
Police Division’s mounted unit and a dog from the canine unit; a clown; and a visit from Lou-Seal, the mascot of the
Columbus Clippers, who likely shed some pounds in that furry suit with the weather still sweltering at sunset.
Then there was the karaoke machine. Boggs was followed on it by state Rep. Dan Stewart, a Democrat from Columbus, and Greater
Hilltop Area Commission member Dru Bagley.
"To see the neighbors out unified, that was the No. 1 thing," Justin said.
Earlier, he met Mayor Michael B. Coleman and accepted a $1,000 check from Kohl’s as the department store’s
regional winner of a community service scholarship award.
Justin won for his involvement in the Block Watch and his volunteer work at COSI, said Jeff Miller, assistant manager of
Kohl’s W. Broad Street store.
"The winners were announced in July, but we wanted to give him the check at one of the things he was involved in," said
Miller, taking a break from flipping burgers on a grill.
A home-school graduate, Justin plans to enroll at Columbus State Community College in the fall, he said.
This was the first year that the Ogden Block Watch held a party, which was the reason Coleman stopped by.
"We’re sending a message to criminals. The message is ‘Get out and stay out,’ " Coleman said. "Let’s
do this every weekend. These are good hamburgers."
A short time later, Coleman was munching on popcorn at the Linden Area Block Watch party, held on the parking lot of the
Good Shepherd Baptist Church at Cleveland Avenue and E. Hudson Street.
The mayor planned to visit at least five parties around town.
Events such as National Night Out help Block Watch groups recommit to fighting crime, a job that police can’t do
alone, Coleman said.
His police strike force, which began two weekends ago, has made 73 arrests, filed 21 arrest warrants, seized 10 guns and
eight knives, Coleman said. The special unit has made a total of 879 runs, focusing on six areas where crime has been a problem.