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National Night Out Brings Community, Law Enforcement Together

Independence, Monmouth, Polk Fire, CERT team up for party on Tuesday

INDEPENDENCE – National Night Out is Tuesday, and this year’s party is bigger and better than ever.

Take a bite out of crime

Keep vehicles secured with valuables out of sight. Park in well-lit areas.

Lock up bicycles or secure them in a garage or shed.

Keep the vegetation around your residence trimmed to make it more difficult for people to hide behind it.

Install security or motion-activated lighting to the exterior of your residence and keep them turned on at night.

Be aware of your surroundings while you are out and about.

Get to know your neighbors.

If you see something suspicious in your neighborhood, report it to your local police department.

Emergency: 911.

Non-emergency: Independence, 503-838-1214; Monmouth, 503-838-1109; Dallas, 503-831-3516.

Independence and Monmouth police departments have teamed up with Polk County Fire District No. 1 and Polk County Emergency Response Team (CERT) to host a community event from 6 to 8 p.m. at Station 90, 1800 Monmouth St., Independence.

In previous years, IPD and MPD held individual events.

“It’s been pretty small events that we’ve had,” said Monmouth Sgt. Isaiah Haines. “We’re two separate cities, but we’re the same community, the same people that we’re serving. We wanted to make it a bigger event and hopefully get a little more turnout.”

The evening will include fire and police vehicles for kids to look at and explore, street tacos from Koyotes – the first 200 will be free, with additional tacos for purchase – refreshments, popcorn, sno cones, a bicycle rodeo – sponsored by Veal’s Bikes Plus – a kids firefighting experience, giveaways and a dunk tank.

“National Night Out is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, better places to live,” said Independence Sgt. Justin Hedlund.

The event was started in 1984 by the U.S. Department of Justice as a crime prevention program that emphasizes building relationships between police and the communities they serve, according to the National Night Out website, ncjrs.gov.

Haines said officers welcome the opportunity to mingle with the community.

“We want to encourage people to come to us,” he said. “I hear all the time, ‘I didn’t want to bother you with this.’ That’s what we’re here for, helping solve problems and figure out solutions. It’s a good time for neighbors to get to know each other and, hopefully, just having some light-hearted conversation and feeling comfortable, having that common ground.”

Hedlund said with all the local agencies working together, the hope is to provide a larger and more enjoyable National Night Out event for everyone involved.

Before heading out the event, lock your house and car, and turn on your lights.

“I think because we do live in a pretty safe community, people get complacent sometimes,” Haines said. “They will leave their house unlocked or car unlocked.”

It’s important to watch out for your neighbors, too.

“There’s only so many officers on the road,” Haines said.

So far, two Dallas Neighborhood Watch groups will host events in the Hayter and Academy street areas, but those are generally just for those neighborhoods.

For more information about starting a Neighborhood Watch group in Dallas, call Tandi Vidrio at 503-831-3516. For information about starting a group in Monmouth or Independence, call the police non-emergency line (Monmouth, 503-838-1109; Independence, 503-838-1214).

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