Calling all McGruffs

It will be a night to shout out the message that crime is just not acceptable.

It will also be a time for police officers to educate the public on new resources to fight crime and improve the community.

For the seventh year in a row, Bremerton Police and the Bremerton Housing Authority will host National Night Out 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Westpark Community Center field.

“I think deterring crime is in everybody’s interest,” said the local National Night Out chairman Val Bodine.

The games, speeches, food and entertainment starts at 6 p.m.

The title of the crime-prevention party is “Building a better community.”

Bremerton is one of hundreds of cities nationwide that are participating Tuesday night in National Night Out. Started 22 years ago, the program generates support for anti-crime programs and builds stronger bonds between the law enforcement and the public.

According to the Bremerton Police Department’s second quarter crime statistics, 1,553 offenses were committed in a three month period.

The police department fielded 13,544 calls for service.

According to Forbes, forming neighborhood block watches can deter crime in an area.

When National Night out was first started in 1984 by the National Association of Town Watch, they conducted a survey which found only 5 to 7 percent of residents were participating in such a crime watch program.

In 1984, 400 communities in 23 states participated in National Night Out. In 2003, 33 million people in 10,000 communities throughout the United States participated.

Although crime is overall very difficult to tame in Bremerton, Police Chief Rob Forbes said the relationship between citizens and police has grown closer since he was hired five years ago.

The latest program designed by the National Association of Town Watch is called 365, where cities tar get a certain neighborhood and spend an entire year eradicating a problem there, journaling their results.

“It may be graffiti or it may be infiltrated with drug dealers or domestic violence, Bodine said. “You have 365 days doing whatever you can do to get rid of the problem.”

Last year, hundreds of people showed up at the Westpark Community Center to show their support of anti-crime programs.

“For me, the main advantage to National Night Out is it gives the community an opportunity to come together to send a message to the criminal element we are not going to tolerate perpetrators,” said Forbes. “It gives people another opportunity to learn about services, such as counseling or anger management as well.”

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