Olympia police officers, department volunteers and others fanned out Tuesday across the city as part of National Night Out Against Crime, an annual event promoting neighbors helping neighbors to cut down on crime.
Three teams split up to bring giveaways, such as bubbles, pens, coloring books and balloons, to residents at 20 block parties throughout the city, making 20-minute appearances to mingle and hand out information.
It was the department’s 11th year in the event that has gone on nationally for 30 years.
Chief Ronnie Roberts said it’s about getting back to basics.
“What we see now is people don’t talk or interact,” Roberts said. “Our goal is to get people talking together, and when we are there engaging people it sometimes takes down walls a bit.”
The department’s volunteer vehicle, a black-and-white PT Cruiser with a large horn on the roof, led the way into a block party at Evergreen Village Apartments off Division Street on Olympia’s west side, where residents were enjoying a potluck in the community building.
Haley and Daniel Crim were in line with their 9-month-old son, Vance.
“It’s good for the community because it gets everyone out to meet everyone else; otherwise everyone just sits inside, stays with themselves,” Daniel Crim said.
By having neighbors know neighbors, communities can do a better job of keeping an eye on each other and cut down on unnecessary calls to police.
Roberts said many things, such as teenage drivers making noise and kicking gravel up into neighbors’ yards, could be handled by neighbors simply talking with one another.
“A lot of times, the families have no idea it’s going on,” Roberts said.
Neighbors also have a good idea of who frequents the area, and often have been the first to call in home burglaries and other suspicious circumstances.Chelsea Krotzer: 360-754-5476 firstname.lastname@example.org @chelseakrotzer