29th Annual National Night Out brings out record numbers in Redmond
By SAMANTHA PAK
Redmond Reporter Reporter
August 8, 2012 · Updated 4:17 PM
On Tuesday evening, residents of Wildwood Glen gathered in a cul-de-sac of their development to listen to the Redmond Police Department's (RPD) Matt Hurley discuss crime and public safety in the city and specifically, their Grass Lawn neighborhood.
Hurley, a school resource officer (SRO) at what will now be Redmond Middle School (RMS), answered questions about how the RPD addresses car prowls and burglaries and the department's Victim Assistance Team's (VAT) role in helping people after they've been on the receiving end of a crime. He also offered tips on how to avoid being a victim in the first place and more.
A RECORD-SETTING EVENT
Hurley's visit wasn't in response to a rash of crimes in the neighborhood. It was part of the 29th Annual National Night Out (NNO), a crime prevention event that took place in a record 49 Redmond neighborhoods this year and all around the country. RPD community outreach facilitator Jim Bove, who organizes the annual event, said early estimates have about 2,500 people attending parties this year — another all-time high. He added that he is always amazed at the community's support for the police, fire and city employees as well as for each other.
And while organizing the ever-growing event can be exhausting, Bove said it gives him a sense of pride in the "city, the people that live here, and the many people who go out and visit parties."
"It's a lot of work for so many people, but in the end you can't put a price tag on it," he said. "Not just from a safety perspective for fire and police to get out and meet people and answer questions, but for City Council and the mayor to get out and hear comments, suggestions, and feedback from the community we serve."
A POSITIVE LIGHT ON PUBLIC SAFETY
From barbecues and potlucks to ice cream socials and wine tastings, residents throughout Redmond got together to meet their neighbors and make their community a safer place to live.
"It's a great community event," said Hurley, who visited six parties Tuesday night.
He said meeting citizens in different neighborhoods is huge for the police and fire departments because it is a positive interaction they don't often have with the public. Most people only meet officers if they are a victim — or suspect — of a crime and only meet firefighters in the case of a fire or medical emergency, Hurley said.
He added that the impromptu question-and-answer session at Wildwood Glen is what NNO is about: Citizens getting together to do their part to solve problems and stamp out crime.
Redmond Police Chief Ron Gibson said seeing citizens take an active role in their community's safety, which plays a large role in crime prevention in the city, is the highlight of NNO.
"It really is about the community," Gibson said. "We can't solve (crime) on our own."
He said the RPD solves a lot of crime based on calls they receive from Redmond residents reporting suspicious activity.
KNOW YOUR NEIGHBORS
A large part of this is knowing your neighbors and who belongs in the neighborhood and doesn't.
Every city celebrates NNO differently and Bove said the reason Redmond holds individual block parties is because the purpose is to get out and meet neighbors and in the end, make it a safer community.
"If you have one large event, then it's counterproductive," he said. "Yes, you get to meet public safety and city employees, and you might meet new people, but getting to know those who live in your own neighborhood who can look out for your property is priceless. Knowing who belongs in your neighborhood and who doesn't can make all the difference in knowing when criminal activity is occurring."
Julia Cutting agreed.
"There's safety in knowing your neighbor," she said. "It's very important."
Cutting was in charge of organizing her neighborhood's block party in Grass Lawn Park Estates and said they use NNO as an opportunity to exchange contact information for emergencies and learn about the community resources provided by the police and fire departments. She said she particularly enjoys seeing the youngsters on her block learn this.
"It's fun to see them thrilled about (police officers and firefighters) and realize they're friends and not enemies," Cutting said.
Having lived in the neighborhood for almost 25 years, Cutting added that NNO is only one of many get togethers they hold on their street in the summer.
Bove said a number of neighborhoods like Cutting's hold NNO parties every year but he gets excited about first timers who are nervous about their party's attendance and end up having many more than they expected. He credits Redmond's NNO success to the support they receive from the community.
"There are certain times in my job when I stick my chest out a little further and hold my head up a little higher because of the pride I have in the Redmond Police Department, my association with the Redmond Fire Department, and the entire City of Redmond," Bove said. "The first Tuesday in August is one of those times."Contact Redmond Reporter Reporter Samantha Pak at email@example.com or 425-867-0353, ext. 5052.