Get to know your neighbors, police during Tuesday's National Night Out

By Loretto J. Hulse, Tri-City HeraldAugust 4, 2013 

Knowing who belongs in your neighborhood -- and who doesn't -- is one of the best ways to fight crime, authorities say.

That's why Americans across the nation are being urged to step out of their homes and greet their neighbors Tuesday for National Night Out .

National Night Out began 30 years ago as a way to heighten crime prevention awareness, generate support for local anti-crime programs, bolster neighborhood spirit and foster police-community partnerships, according to information from National Night Out officials.

The Kennewick Police Department is one of the few Tri-City law enforcement agencies that's been involved since the inception of National Night Out.

"When I first heard about this program, I said this is something we need to do," said Mike Blatman, Kennewick police crime prevention specialist.

"It's important because it's a fact that any law enforcement department relies on the participation of the public to do their job. This event is a reminder to citizens to keep paying attention, to look out for each other and to report anything suspicious or out of the ordinary to help keep our community safe," he said.

Kennewick, Richland and West Richland will hold city-wide gatherings and Pasco will offer six smaller, neighborhood events.

Each of the city-wide events will include displays of anti-crime information, including handouts on how to organize Neighborhood Watch groups, exhibits of emergency equipment and a chance to meet the police who patrol the streets.

Here's a roundup of what's going on in each city:

Kennewick

Kennewick's National Night Out event is from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at the Southridge Sports Complex, 2901 Southridge Blvd. City officials also have combined it with Kennewick's City Night, where residents can learn more about their city government.

There will be free hamburgers, chips and soft drinks while they last. There will be a rock climbing wall and a bounce house. Tri-Cities Crime Stoppers will be issuing free child identification cards, and the Southridge Farmers Market will be open.

Visitors can also take the Family Walk. Stop at different stations for information about the city's departments, and you'll be entered in a drawing for one of several $25 gift cards.

Richland

In Richland, the city-wide event is from 5 to 9 p.m. in Howard Amon Park behind the community center.

There will be free hot dogs, soft drinks and ice cream until supplies run out.

There will be live music from 5 to 8 p.m., and the Richland Bomb Squad and the Tri-City Regional SWAT team will be on site with their equipment.

Richland has been participating in National Night Out for about seven years. First as a series of smaller events, then as a single large one.

"The single event seems to be more popular and reach more people. Last year we had about 800 attend," said Rick Kane, community services officer for the Richland police.

Pasco

Pasco's neighborhood gatherings are all happening between 6 and 7 p.m., said Pasco police Capt. Jim Raymond. The events will be at the 300 block of North Charles Avenue, Colleguim off A Street, the 700 block of North Road 32 in the Riviera Trailer Park, the 1800 block of West Park Street, the 8200 block of Camano Drive and the Mediterranean Villas off Road 100.

Raymond encourages other neighborhoods to organize their own block parties too.

"We've become such a transient society that neighbors don't know their neighbors. This is a good time to say hello, to hook-up and find out who belongs in the neighborhood. Crime prevention begins with looking after each other," Raymond said.

West Richland

West Richland's gathering is from 5 to 9 p.m. at Flat Top Park at the corner of Van Giesen Street and Bombing Range Road.

This is the first time the city has participated in National Night Out in almost a decade, said a department spokesperson.

There will be free hamburgers and hot dogs, and officers will hand out free fingerprint cards. The city's animal control officer will have information on adopting homeless pets. And the police department will have information on the free vacation checks they perform on homes year round.

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