The Puyallup Police Department joined forces with local Block Watch groups Aug. 6 for National Night Out, a National Association of Town Watch’s event.
NNO is an annual event that brings communities together with their local law enforcement agencies across the nation. Puyallup Police Department Capt. Scott Engle said it’s designed for people to come together and partner with police to reduce crime and support awareness.
Each of the participating watch groups gather to socialize at block parties or ice cream socials. Puyallup police make an appearance at each location to socialize.
NNO had 14 participating Puyallup neighborhood watch groups this year. The Puyallup Fire Department, Incident Command and McGruff the Crime Dog also were present.
This year marked NNO’s 30th year of operation. Lisa Isaacs, the crime prevention coordinator, said the Puyallup Police Department has been participating since the early 1990s. The neighborhood watch program is crucial to help build the community and to encourage communication among neighbors, she said.
“The citizens are the eyes and ears of the department,” Issacs said.
Puyallup Reserve Police Officer Shawn Nestor has participated in NNO for more than 12 years.
“It’s definitely an annual focus,” Nestor said. “We especially want to focus on apartment complexes, because they have such a high turnover.”
Larry Welch, new block leader of the 17th Street Northwest Block Watch, is about six weeks into the program after he retired from a teaching career. Welch said he hadn’t noticed much crime before in his neighborhood, but awareness has been increased.
“People that go through now at weird hours are going to be watched,” Welch said. “That’s the key.”
The recently registered 17th Street Northwest Block Watch rushed to have its first official meeting a week prior to NNO. While there were seven people expected to attend the neighborhood barbecue, about 30 showed up.
Issacs and Puyallup Police Officer Wally Anderson spoke to the neighbors about prevention tips and tricks.
“I’ve lived here for two years and had never met my neighbors,” Welch said.
Puyallup police consider neighborhood watch groups essential for crime reduction. The PPD visits the registered block groups to give tips for spotting crime, and it helps to coordinate block watches. There are currently more than 25 registered and registering block watch groups in Puyallup.
Neighborhoods that want to form a block watch can call Issacs at 253-841-5531 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Elsy Pawelak is a freelance reporter for the Herald.