No matter where you might have chosen to attend “America’s Night Out Against Crime,” National Night Out in Juneau was a lively evening full of community engagement between neighbors, first responders and, of course, kids.
Juneau’s 14th annual National Night Out was held on Tuesday at numerous locations around town. Juneau Police Department Lt. Krag Campbell said this year’s event was an overall success with 14 different parties, which included volunteers from Juneau Police Department, Alaska State Troopers, Capital City Fire and Rescue, U.S. Coast Guard, Southeast Regional Probation Services, Southeast Alaska Dogs Organized for Ground Search and the Red Cross.
“A lot of people came together just to go out and meet with the community,” Campbell said. “It was just a great time to meet with people, have fun, eat some food, just a no stress environment that everyone could enjoy. Thankfully the rain cooperated and we all stayed dry.”
One of the locations was at Cope Park with CBJ Park Rangers from 6:30 p.m. until 9 p.m. Park Ranger Austin Burnett was set up with a tent and snacks for the public. Due to construction just right outside of the park, it created challenges for a larger attendance, but as Burnett said, he was still able to meet with people from surrounding neighborhoods passing by on foot, which after all, was the goal CBJ was after.
“A big part of this is just community outreach and getting to know the people who are frequenting these areas,”Burnett said. “This park especially is pretty popular with a lot of people just walking after work or walking their dogs, coming here to play at the dog park, so it’s cool for us to get out and meet with a lot of those folks. So, even though there’s not a lot of traffic coming through, we still get to see some of the people we were hoping to visit with and communicate with while we’re out here.”
There were road closures at Easy Street, Rivercourt Way, Firndale Street and Skywood Lane as they each hosted neighborhood block parties. From cookouts, bouncy castles and an assortment of games, each street celebrated National Night Out in style and were joined by Juneau’s various first responders. Not only did parents get a chance to speak candidly with officers, kids had an opportunity to sit in the driver seats of many of the emergency vehicles while operating the lights and sirens or in some cases even talking over the loudspeaker. It’s these types of interactions that Alaska State Trooper Sgt. Chris Russell said often eases the tension that’s sometimes associated with seeing police officers along with squad cars.
“It’s great because you get a chance to interact with dads and moms and kids and they get to hop in the car,”Russell said. “I think it kind of does away with the fearfulness of it when they see a cop car, I know when I was a kid, sometimes you’d see a cop car and it can be cool but also kind of scary and I think when they get a chance to talk to us and interact with us and see that we’re just normal people and the cop car is just a glorified car with some cool stuff in it that they get to play with, I think it’s great. I’m almost 20 years into my career and this is my first time participating in this and it’s great. I look forward to it next year.”