On Aug. 6, families are invited to come out for Kitsap County’s annual National Night Out event that highlights community safety and crime prevention.
The event will be at Haselwood Family YMCA in Silverdale from 5 to 8 p.m. for the 30th anniversary event, which is dedicated to promoting specific crime prevention programs, including neighborhood watch.
This will be the first year the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office has branched out to do the event without another police agency. In prior years, the office partnered with the Port Orchard Police Department.
Splitting up gave the Sheriff’s Office a chance to branch off into a new area and discover new funding opportunities for the event, said Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office Community Resource Officer Schon Montague.
There will be activities for children, including photo opportunities in a makeshift jail cell, a police motorcycle and a touch-a-truck section. Kids will have access to two large bouncy houses and games. Snacks will also be provided.
“The overall theme of it is public safety and learning ways to do things more safely,” said Montague. “The nice part about this event and really any event I go to is I get to meet people who want to meet me. The citizens who come out to visit us are not the people we serve as frequently.”
Kitsap Sheriff’s Office Public Affairs Deputy Scott Wilson agreed with Montague about seeing the community in a different way than they normally do.
“We want to interact. They typically don’t walk into the office and want to yak and have a good time,” he said. “It’s a lot of show and tell for kids.”
Aside from police officers visiting, several other organizations will be included to share public safety tips.
According to the official National Night Out website, the nationwide event started in 1984 and “began an effort to promote involvement in crime prevention activities, police-community partnerships, neighborhood camaraderie and send a message to criminals letting them know that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.” In the first years, 2.5 million Americans in 400 communities in 23 states participated in the event, states the website, www.natw.org.
Several organizations will have their own “spin” on safety tips for the community, Montague said. Topics will include prevention of vehicle prowling and burglary, along with other agency-specific tips. Additionally, informational tables will be set up where families can get a “passport” stamped. After eight stamps, a family will be eligible to use a 40 percent off coupon to Skippers.
Ileana LiMarzi, public information officer of Central Kitsap Fire-Rescue said her department plans to have some medics and firefighters out at the local event, including the gear used in daily rescues. LiMarzi said the department will also pass out information regarding bike safety and water safety because of the summer months in addition to fire safety information.
“The whole purpose of it is to be accessible to the community,” she said. “It’s just really a great opportunity for us to get out there and meet people in the community. On a daily basis we’re running calls and we don’t always have time to stop and make that connection.”
The Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office will participate along with the Haselwood YMCA, Kitsap Humane Society and other local businesses.
“We value National Night Out because it provides a forum for residents and communities to come together with a common purpose,” Sheriff Steve Boyer stated in a press release. “It stresses the importance of communicating with each other, and with our public safety agencies, and of taking an interest in what is occurring in our respective neighborhoods.”
Bremerton Police Department will not be hosting a National Night Out event due to budget cuts, Chief Steven Strachan said. However, he said the department is looking into reintegrating it in the future.
“Bringing neighborhoods together is the best way to build public safety, and that’s why neighborhood groups and events like this are very important,” he said.