Citywide and block by block, local events mark National Night Out Be sociable, fight crime

Meet your neighbors, local police officers – even your city council members – next Tuesday on National Night Out.

Meet your neighbors, local police officers – even your city council members – next Tuesday on National Night Out.

Covington, Black Diamond and Maple Valley all have events planned for the evening, which is in its 25th year of encouraging neighbors working together and with police to prevent crime.

Thus far, there are at least four neighborhood block parties planned in Covington, according to police chief Kevin Klason.

Klason, who’s coordinating Covington’s event, said he will go to the block parties, as well as some of his officers and City Council members.

“It means getting them to get to know their neighbors better, thereby knowing who does belong in their neighborhood,” Klason said. “It’s a means of us getting out there to meet (citizens) in a non-confrontational and relaxed situation. We can find out what their wants are as far as police needs and what kinds of concerns they have.”

Last year, there were seven neighborhood block parties in Covington, Klason said, and he’s hoping all those folks participate again this year.

In Black Diamond, officer Kris Chatterson is responsible for organizing National Night Out, something that he says has been going on there long before he started working in the city 11 years ago.

The entire city is invited to the Black Diamond Community Center for a party, beginning at 5 p.m., with all the favorite barbecue foods, Chatterson said. In addition, there will be police officers there with patrol vehicles for kids to climb through, as well as members of Mountain View Fire and Rescue with fire trucks for the youngsters to explore.

Chatterson will also bring along his K-9 partner, Sabre.

“And any neighborhood that’s going to have its own little block party, we’re going to be bouncing from neighborhood to neighborhood,” Chatterson said. “We’re going to hand out paperwork, talk to (residents) about whatever issues they may have and eat their food. It is a lot of fun.”

Chatterson said many of the residents know him by his first name.

“We’re a real community-oriented area,” he said. “The citizens get along with the cops and the cops get along with the citizens. We’ve been participating in this so long, it’s just part of the culture.”

Maple Valley will host its third National Night Out at Lake Wilderness Park from 6 to 9 p.m., according to police detective Chris Bassett, the city’s storefront officer. Anyone who goes out to the park will get a free dinner provided by the Soup Ladies, a group of volunteers who normally cook for emergency workers, as well as a chance to meet police officers and other members of the community.

“This event is really about the community coming together,” Bassett said. “We don’t just do it in the park. Different block-watches in different neighborhoods will hold events.”

Last year, nearly 50 people showed up at the park, and Bassett said there were countless neighborhood events — so many, in fact, that officers couldn’t get to them all.

“I would say Maple Valley has really picked this up better than other regions in the county I’ve worked in before,” he said. “I think that’s a testament to how involved the citizens are.”

And it’s also an opportunity to get people who aren’t involved in their neighborhood block watch in the know.

“We’re so disjointed in our society, we often don’t know who our neighbors are,” Bassett said. “This gets people out of their homes and meeting neighbors they don’t know and getting reacquainted with neighbors they do know to talk about crime and strategies to defeat it. One of the best things this does is it helps people recognize they’re not alone.”

Staff writer Kris Hill can be reached at (425) 432-1209 (extension 5054) and