As has been true every year for the last two decades, residents of University Place turned out “en masse” to show their support for crime-free neighborhoods.
An estimated 35 neighborhoods organized activities for this year’s annual National Night Out Against Crime. Amid cookouts and potlucks, neighbors took time to reconnect and reaffirm their collective resolve to fight crime. “It may seem like such a simple thing, but simply taking a few hours to make sure that everyone knows everyone else, that new neighbors are introduced, and people know if their neighbors’ phone numbers have changed, etc., can go a long way toward helping us fight crime,” said University Police Chief Mike Blair. “Time and time again, we have seen how informed, observant neighbors are the best tool for deterring burglars, car prowlers and vandals.”
Blair, along with other members of his department, West Pierce Fire & Rescue and the U.P. City Council, broke up into six separate caravans that visited neighborhoods that had registered their NNO activities in advance. “This is my favorite event of the year, because we get a chance to really get out and see people in their own communities, interacting with their neighbors, all with one goal: to create safe neighborhoods,” said Jennifer Hales, U.P.’s public safety administrator.
This year’s National Night Out activities also featured a special kick-off event in the Civic Building atrium, where residents were invited to check out the specialized equipment and personnel of Pierce County’s SWAT and canine teams. “We were really pleased with the turnout,” Hales said, noting that it was especially appreciated by residents that did not have organized neighborhood events. The stars of the show were the SWAT team’s equipment and Hanz, Deputy John Munson’s canine companion crime fighter. “Hanz always steals the show,” Hales said.
In fact, she caravanned with Hanz after the atrium kick-off. Riding with him to different neighborhoods she was reminded about what makes National Night Out in University Place so special. “It’s wonderful to see people getting together to ‘break bread’ and celebrate community,” she said. “Many of these neighborhoods have been doing this for years, so it’s fun to see how it has become a part of their neighborhood culture.”