This year marks the City of Seattle’s 27th Annual “Night Out Against Crime” celebration or “Night Out” for short. Falling on the first Tuesday of every August, “Night Out” is an event that encourages neighbors to gather and spend time together in an effort to heighten crime prevention/awareness and increase neighborhood safety. Porch lights are typically turned on as a symbolic gesture supporting crime prevention principles. Seattle has robust participation with hundreds of organized celebrations registered every year. Last year, over 1,200 registered blocks took part. Already, over a 1,000 are registered.
In keeping with the traditional crime prevention theme and acknowledging City efforts toward emergency preparedness, this year’s theme is Fighting Crime Together – Being Prepared Together.
Fighting Crime Together
Some of you may be wondering why the Seattle Police Department has been “tweeting” police events.
The Seattle Police Department handles hundreds of thousands of contacts every year. What better way to bring awareness to them than to “tweet” a sample of them during a 12 hour period? The department started at 6 a.m. We will continue until 6 p.m.
The point of “tweeting” police events is this: while crime fighting is the business of the police department, we can’t do it alone.
We rely on Seattle residents to report crime and suspicious behavior. The majority of the incidents that we handle were reported to us. That means that the majority of the incidents that we are “tweeting” were brought to our attention by the public.
We also rely on Seattle residents to prevent crime by doing little things in their homes and neighborhoods that to make crime difficult for criminals.
This year we are asking residents to get organized and meet your neighbors, consider joining a block watch program on your street and continue reporting crimes and suspicious behavior to 911. Night Out is a perfect opportunity for Seattle residents to spend time catching up with neighbors they know and meeting neighbors they don’t. It is our hope that neighbors will exchange contact information for use in future emergencies. We believe that when you know your neighbors, you will be better prepared to look out for them, for their safety and their property. The idea is that they will do the same for you.
Seattle fire fighters will also be visiting neighborhoods this year to share some easy measures residents can take to prevent arson fires as well as how to prepare in the event a fire erupts in their home or business.
We are announcing a new Night Out partnership this year. Washington State Patrol’s District 2 will be visiting neighborhood celebrations throughout Seattle. The Washington State Patrol is one of our law enforcement partners. Their troopers regularly patrol the highways and freeways here in Seattle. Residents can take some time talking to troopers to learn what the State Patrol is doing to keep roadways safe here and throughout Washington and what they can do to help.
Being Prepared Together
Our planet has had some difficult years as far as natural disasters go. The tornados in the Midwest and the tsunami in Japan are simply the most recent. At Seattle Office of Emergency Management, preparedness is a focal point of our efforts.
Preparedness isn’t a concept limited to government, although it is something that we work toward and take very seriously. It is also a concept that applies to individual households and communities. Being prepared is really more than just an individual effort, though. The same concepts that are used for crime prevention and reporting can also be applied towards emergency preparedness. Do you know your neighbors? Do they have special needs? Do they need assistance? These are conversations that neighbors can and should be having now, before the next disaster. The concept of neighbors looking after neighbors is a sure remedy when dealing with emergencies both big and small.
Seattle already has a program in place that can assist residents with getting started. It’s called Seattle Neighborhoods Actively Prepare or SNAP. Emergency preparedness materials are available online, many of them translated into different languages.
Night Out 2011 promises to be a great event. Register your Night Out celebration now and learn more about Block Watch by visiting the Seattle Police Department website at seattle.gov/police
Together we can fight crime AND be prepared. We look forward to stopping by your neighborhood celebration this year and saying “thank you”.