Pierce County residents will barbecue, enjoy music and meet their neighbors Tuesday evening at block parties across the South Sound as part of a nationwide effort to deter crime.
The 29th annual National Night Out encourages neighborhoods to host events to strengthen their communities, thereby preventing criminal activity.
Its really the perfect opportunity to get to know someone you didnt know before, said Wanda Rochelle, who helps register the events locally as part of Tacomas Safe Streets Campaign. Its really communities getting together to take back their neighborhoods from crime and criminal activity.
About 120 parties are on her list this year. Events also can be registered directly through the national organization. About 20 of the events are new this year, compared to about five new events most years, she said.
With the economy and the budget of Tacoma, the community is realizing we cant always arrest our way out of criminal activity, she said. The best deterrent to crime is neighbors knowing their neighbors, period. I think that leads to a proactive approach against criminal activity.
Police community liaison officers will attend the parties in their respective sectors Tuesday night.
Tacoma residents Gia Casto and Iola Brown met at their neighborhood Night Out party in 2005. The two decided to join forces to clean up nearby Pacific Avenue, and they say its made the neighborhood safer.
They formed an official business district that installed flower pots, put up banners identifying the district, started an annual trash pick-up and recently created a safety crosswalk with an island for pedestrians.
Repairing the streets sidewalks is on the agenda.
Brown said the work has helped get rid of prostitution and drug dealing in the neighborhood.
If you let the area go, she said, thats what comes in.
Castos house was burglarized in 2006 and 2007. She thinks the Night Out events and the work to clean up Pacific Avenue are helping keep that sort of criminal activity in check these days.
Casto and Brown said they will be at their local party Tuesday.
I havent missed one since I moved there eight years ago, Casto said. You need to have the people that live around you out there so they know each other.
FIND A PARTY
To find a National Night Out event in Pierce County, go to bit.ly/MjurOh.