Juneau neighborhoods welcome first responders at Night Out block parties

The Juneau Police Department, Capital City Fire and Rescue and the Coast Guard Auxilary visited neighborhoods across Juneau as part of National Night Out.

The Juneau Police Department, Capital City Fire and Rescue and the Coast Guard Auxilary visited neighborhoods across Juneau as part of National Night Out. (Photo by Heather Bryant/KTOO)

Last night police cars and fire trucks fanned out across neighborhoods in Juneau in a coordinated effort. No, there wasn’t a major crime spree. Last night was Juneau’s annual National Night Out celebration.

It’s Juneau’s sixth year participating in the event. Ten neighborhoods from Douglas to the Valley hosted block parties and got a chance to meet local law enforcement and first responders.

Juneau’s new police chief, Bryce Johnson said he looked forward to getting out in the community and talking to people about how JPD is doing and what they can be doing better.

“It’s a great event because it gets people thinking about crime. It gets communities together. Sometimes it’s nice to just get a neighborhood out and talking to each other. It does that also. And as people interact they can talk to each other about what they see in their neighborhood and what their expectations are, so it’s been a successful event all over the country.”

Johnson was one of the 11 uniformed officers attending the events along with firefighters and members of the Coast Guard Auxiliary.

The various departments broke into teams of three and greeted each party with a group of police cars and fire trucks.

Anne Weske’s family moved to their neighborhood three years ago and has participated in the event every year.

“It just ended up being outside our house the first year and it was awesome. Because all the kids come down, neighbors who we had no idea lived in the area came down and brought food and it was huge. We probably had 40 people the first time.”

Lt. Dave Campbell says the teams try to make it out to events where they know lots of kids are participating so the kids can have a chance to meet McGruff the Crime Dog and see the vehicles.

Curtis Holmes’ family has been participating in the block parties since the beginning when his wife was a volunteer with the police department.

“[It’s] fun for the kids to come see all the vehicles and see everybody and not be afraid of the police cars.”

Rachel Stauffer, 38, works for the city Treasury Department. She has captained a block party for the last two years.

“I just think that it’s great to know who your neighbors are. It’s great because when people walk by every day you feel comfortable saying ‘hi.’”

Stauffer started an email list for her neighborhood so that neighbors can stay in touch over things such bears problems or possible illegal activity in the area.

“I want to be able to contact all my neighbors when I need to.”

National Night Out was started in 1984 as a way of promoting crime and drug prevention in communities.

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