Glass blowing, hip-hop dancing and skateboarding might not be common crime-fighting tools, but they were part of the Hilltop Artists National Night Out party Tuesday night.
Block parties across the country Tuesday night aimed to deter crime by strengthening communities as part of the 29th annual National Night Out.
“It brings the community together and lets everyone know that we care about the community, and that we’re not afraid to help,” 16-year-old Deaja Spencer said after performing a hip-hop routine at the Hilltop Artists event.
The party was at Tacoma’s Jason Lee Middle School, and was one of about 120 in Pierce County this year, according to Tacoma’s Safe Streets Campaign. About 9,000 people were expected to participate in Night Out countywide.
Police officers attend the events, which are meant to build a foundation between community members and law enforcement, said Greg Piercy with Hilltop Artists. He helped start the group’s party four years ago.
“When I started this, I just thought it was really great for the kids to have that relationship already built up,” Piercy said. “I just think it’s a really positive thing.”
Tacoma police community liaison officers attended the Night Out parties in their sectors Tuesday night.
“This is our big day of the year,” North End community liaison officer Mike Field said at the Hilltop Artists party, adding that officers answer questions at the events.
Getting to know your neighbors is a focus of the parties, which helps deter crime, Field’s partner officer Jennifer Terhaar said.
“They can really figure out who’s supposed to be there and watch out for each other,” she said.
In addition to crime prevention, the Hilltop Artists’ party also helps get the word out about the group, which teaches classes at the school and has after-school programs.
Students showed partygoers their glass-blowing skills at the school’s studio.
“They can learn more about what we’re planning to do for the community and how we’re helping the community,” 15-year-old R.J. Oki said, as his peers wielded glass-blowing wands, demonstrating the art.
Morgan Zantua watched her daughter Auriel, 10, learn to skateboard at the party.
“It builds a sense of community,” Zantua said about Night Out. “Good things happen when people pay attention, and bad things happen when they don’t.”email@example.com