Seattle Police Officer Mark Wong made the rounds with his K-9 partner to meet people at several National Night Out block parties.
Seattle Police Officer Mark Wong made the rounds with his K-9 partner to meet people at several National Night Out block parties.

Twenty-five Queen Anne and Magnolia streets, parks, common spaces or private yards were signed up to host National Night Out events on Tuesday night.

National Night Out is an annual campaign that promotes police and community partnerships, as well as bringing neighbors together to share ideas about improving safety where they live. The campaign started in 1984, and now reaches 16,000 communities.

The Seattle Police Department sponsored the local National Night Out, permitting registered streets to block traffic and designated parks to host neighborhood parties, ideally tailored to discussing neighborhood safety and crime prevention.

More than 100 locations in Seattle participated – hosting potlucks, meeting police officers and K-9s, breaking open a piñata and connecting neighbors on Aug. 6.

Queen Anne resident and neighborhood block watch captain Jeff Barreca helped make sure his neighbors enjoyed the evening by setting up Mayfair Park as a gathering spot. He said Night Out is an opportunity for neighbors to get together, and not just to discuss neighborhood safety.

“People can lookup online through the police department, and such, information on crime statistics nearby and tips about securing the locks on the house and the windows on the house. That kind of started it off,” he said. “But that’s not what it’s evolved into; its just a gathering, a social gathering.”

German shepherd K-9 Katniss made an appearance with her handler, Officer Mark Wong, letting kids and adults say hello and pet her at the block party at Queen Anne Avenue North and Raye Street. Wong was driving around Queen Anne that night, stopping to meet neighbors and answer questions about his job and Katniss, who has her own collectible trading card.

Wong said knowing your neighbors can keep neighborhoods safe, and “Sometimes it’s easier to meet a police dog than a police officer.”

Another block party on Second Avenue West and West Raye Street had a table for food and a kids table. Ben Brodsky moved to the neighborhood with his wife and 2-year-old son last October.

“Getting to know the neighbors — there’s also a safety element too — so you can start to know the people that you live by, and like also it’s pretty fun to have [my son] get to know the people that he’s going to grow up with,” Brodsky said.

When asked what he would say to people who want to drive on the blocked-off street, Brodsky said he would tell them, “Come join us!”

One woman at the block party said people who live on the street have access, but everyone else has to find an alternate route. However, that does not stop drivers from trying to get through. 

“When we first had it, off this guy goes. ‘Oh no, I just live right up here.’ And I’m looking at his car, and afterward I let him in because we thought he lived right here,” she said. “And he didn’t. He lives on your guys’ block, the next block up. And we’re like, ‘Come on man.’”