SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Hampden County Sheriff’s Department held its 10th Annual Safe Neighborhood Initiative Appreciation Dinner & Awards Ceremony Wednesday night.

The Safe Neighborhood Initiative is a simple program of neighbors looking after neighbors. The goals of the initiative include creating greater public safety by empowering neighbors to get involved in the process of resolving and preventing crime within their communities.

The program includes 15 neighborhoods in Springfield and Holyoke, with hundreds of community participants. Citizens are trained on a number of techniques such as observation skills and reporting suspicious activity.

The dinner is a way to recognize law enforcement agencies, officers, and residents who are members of the safe neighborhood initiative. The initiative is described as a way to not only keep neighborhoods safe but also helps people better their lives.

Ed Caisse of the department told 22News, “It’s about reaching youth and families and making the neighborhood safer but helping people get to better places.”

The Safe Neighborhood Initiative began in December of 2007. It was a collaboration between the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department, the Springfield Mayor’s Office, the Springfield Police Department, the Holyoke Mayor’s Office, and the Holyoke Police Department.