Juneau celebrated National Night Out in style on Tuesday as members of the Juneau Police Department, Capital City Fire/Rescue, Alaska State Troopers and other first responders visited block parties in 20 neighborhoods around Juneau.
“It’s all about connecting with the people when there’s not an emergency happening,” said Erann Kalwara, JPD public safety manager. “It’s a chance to make a more positive interaction.”
Members from different services split up into five groups with a mix of personnel, breaking up the assignments so every neighborhood hosting a party got coverage.
“The idea is to promote community relations with the first responders,” said Lt. Krag Campbell, JPD patrol lieutenant. “The idea is to meet members of the public in a low stress environment.”
Many of the personnel involved, Campbell said, don’t necessarily interact with the public unless something has gone very wrong with their lives. The idea behind National Night Out is to give the public a chance to meet public service personnel like Coast Guards members or correctional officers in a relaxed, non-crisis environment.
“It’s nice to have them stop by,” said Julie Coffin, who has hosted the National Night Out on her block for four years. Block parties ranged from restrained, with people quietly enjoying good food with neighbors, to louder and looser, with bounce houses and water balloon fights. Good weather helped, Campbell said, adding that the weather has been fortunate for a lot of these.
“It’s kind of nice to get to know them outside of an emergency,” Coffin said.
The public service personnel aren’t the only people getting together for the block party.
“You kind of get to know your surrounding neighbors,” Anna Hay said. Some of the parties had a dozen people but some had more than a hundred, with people coming from the surrounding streets with dogs and friends to grill and hang out.
The event is also a chance for kids and adults to get to see emergency vehicles they might not normally get to see in a non-emergency setting. Kids clambered up on fire trucks, sat in the back of cop cars, and explored Juneau’s new Mobile Incident Center, which made its National Night Out debut this year. Police officers, firefighters/EMTs and other emergency personnel answered questions about their jobs and gave out plastic fire hats and stickers.
“I love getting to do this,” said Donald Law, a volunteer firefighter.
And what’s the most popular vehicle?
“Just the fire truck,” laughed CCFR Assistant Chief Ed Quinto. “They always gravitate to the fire truck.”
• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 523-2271 or firstname.lastname@example.org.