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National Night Out

National Night Out

Mercer Island is participating for the first time in a national program designed to get residents outside their homes and meet their neighbors.

The city’s new emergency preparedness manager, Police Officer Jennifer Franklin, is implementing the Island’s participation in the annual National Night Out as part of her efforts to help residents look out for crime and prepare for an emergency. The 25th annual National Night Out is a crime prevention event that Mercer Island has largely ignored in the past, but Franklin hopes it is a success in promoting neighborhood based emergency preparedness as well.

“We are doing what we can to prevent crime from happening, but it is also about getting out and meeting your neighbors and learning about preparedness as a whole,” said Franklin.

Franklin officially became the city’s emergency preparedness officer in June. She said a resident who participated in the event last summer suggested that the city encourage others to join.

“There was a great response from the neighborhood, and I decided to take it up as city,” said Franklin.

Residents in Island neighborhoods and across the nation are encouraged to spend the evening outside with neighbors from 7 to 10 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 5. Police officers, City Council members, and city officials are planning to visit organized neighborhoods participating in the event.

Franklin said three neighborhoods have contacted her so far, and she expects several more neighborhoods to join in by hosting a variety of special events such as block parties and cookouts. She said residents are encouraged to host events in driveways or cul-de-sacs. If any neighborhood wishes to close down a street, she asks that they contact her prior to doing so. In addition to promoting emergency preparedness, Franklin said the event helps to establish a block watch program that has been successful in preventing crimes in numerous communities.

“An officer can drive around and not know who should be there and who shouldn’t,” she said. “Neighbors will know when something is a mess. If nothing else, this is an opportunity just to get to know each other.”

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