Kids and cops and families mingled at the city of Bellevue's National Night Out event, which was held Tuesday afternoon at the Farmers Market.
"It's a chance for us to meet the public," said Officer Dave Porter, who is stationed at the on 156th Avenue Northeast. "We really get to reach out to the community and they can get to know us."
Establishing trust with the community is important, he said, as is being able to meet the public in a positive situation and answer questions.
Kandi Dodrill of Bellevue, who was with her daughter, Ellie, 9, said that they came to the market Tuesday to enter in the Crossroads Bellevue Farmers Market salsa dip contest, and that she and her daughter decided to stay and explore the exhibits.
Dodrill said that there was some useful information to know, such as the Bellevue School District's has a new anti-bullying policy, which was featured at the Bellevue Police Department anti-bullying booth.
"It was good to know that," she said. "It's important."
Ellie tried the seat of a Bellevue Police motorcycle, and asked plenty of questions.
"It kind of felt like my dad's scooter, except it was softer," she said of the motorcycle. She said she did ask the officers a few questions
"I asked, 'Can you go 160 mph?' " Ellie said. "He said you only have to 102 to 105 mph."
Visitors could touch rubber pellets used for crowd control and sit in the SWAT vehicle, as different divisions of the Bellevue Police Department demonstrated their equipment and answered questions. Stations included the SWAT team, crowd control, school resource officers, bicycle units, motorcycle units and bomb squad. The Bellevue Fire Department also brought several trucks.
National Night Out included other safety-related exhibits, such as the the city's Office of Emergency Management, the located in the Crossroads Bellevue shopping Center and booths by the U.S. Marines and U.S. Army, where recruiters from the could answer kids' and parents' about military service.
Puget Sound Energy also brought its "Bulb Mobile," which offered visitors a fluorescent light bulb to emphasize how inexpensive it can be to enhance neighborhood safety, Porter said.
"Just turning on your porch light at night," he said. "It's not that expensive."
According to National Association of Town Watch, which coordinates National Night Out, more tha 37 million people in 15,000 communities are taking part in the national safety event, which was created to heighten awareness of crime prevention; generate support for, and participation in, local anticrime efforts; send a message to criminals letting them know neighborhoods are organized and fighting back; and strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships.
Other Bellevue neighborhoods were slated to hold their local events in the evening, including neighborhoods and streets in the Cougar Mountain area, Woodridge, Robinswood and other areas of the city, said Officer Richard Chinn, who planned to give presentations on neighborhood crime prevention at a number of National Night Out events in Bellevue. Chinn said a few similiar safety awareness events were planned for the weekend as well.
Some of the events are used so neighbors can get to know each other, Porter said. At some of the neighborhood events, residents bring more people into their block watches and create phone trees and email trees to help neighbors stay informed about suspicious actvity, he said.
Events such as National Night Out helps enhance residential safety as people get to know their neighbors, he said.
"Just get outside with the porchlight on, get to know your neighbors, make a phone list of your neighbors," Porter said.