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Was that the last Night Out in Seattle?

Posted by Mike on August 4th, 2010

UPDATE AUG. 5: The Stranger has more information on the crime prevention coordinators here.

Wednesday evening thousands of Seattle residents joined in the giant block party that is National Night Out against crime. Our news partners The Seattle Times reports more than 1,000 blocks in the city celebrated.

It might be for the last time.

Night Out in Seattle is a function of the city’s six civilian crime prevention coordinators, who work directly with the neighborhoods but could see their positions axed, as we reported earlier.

Seattle faces a multi-million dollar budget shortage, and the six, including North Precinct coordinators Diane Horswill and Neil Hansen, have been told they’ll lose their jobs next spring.

Today Marc Phillips, president of the Maple Leaf Community Council, let us know that “this is likely the last year (for Night Out) due to budget cuts.”

Horswill confirms: “I think it is important for neighbors to know that the services we provide including block watch, community meetings, security consultations, personal safety and Night Out will be gone,” she e-mailed today.

“Although the budget won’t be official until late Fall we (Crime Prevention Coordinators) were told that the 3-year-grant that we have been working under for the past year or so will be applied  to other positions/programs as of 3/31/2011.”

The crime prevention coordinators do the time-consuming administrative work of orchestrating the neighborhood programs under their city contract, in addition to working directly with residents doing everything from setting up block watches to going door-to-door to warn about recent crimes. They were part of the police budget up until last October, when the positions were funded with the federal grant money.

“We’re encouraging folks to contact the mayor, Councilperson Burgess, and Chief Diaz to fund this vital service,” Phillips said.



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8 reader comments so far ↓

  • 1 gb // Aug 4, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    Honestly, the elimination of said positions doesn’t end Night Out or block parties. It’s sad to see anyone lose their job, but neighbors shouldn’t see it as an impossible hurdle stopping them from holding their own.

    Speaking of, while I knew Night Out was coming, I only discovered where it was happening on my commute home. What kills me is that my street (only one block over) was blocked off and holding one… yet no one bothered telling the neighbors down the street it was happening or that we’d be welcome to come. If I wasn’t constantly checking these blogs, I’d have had no idea why the other section of my street was blocked off. If the point of the Night Out is community awareness and working together to notice and report crime/etc, then in at very least my vicinity, it’s been a huge failure. What kind of local awareness exists if neighbors a 2 minute walk away have no clue something is happening?

    Yes, I guess I could have waltzed up the hill and joined in, but the wife and I were already on our way out the door for a date night. It would have been only slightly more effort (especially given the grouped mailboxes) for one person to print out tiny notices and slip ‘em in mailboxes (8th NE is pretty easy to walk across to include your immediate neighbors). But I guess that flies in the face of the general enclave attitude of folks in this town, and I find that sad. I’ve lived in other cities, and I’ve not seen a group that seems more frightened of neighborly contact.

    If your street/block is different, fantastic. I hope that attitude spreads.

  • 2 mjh // Aug 4, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    Sorry you felt unincluded. I bet if you talked with your neighbors about it, you’d be included in the plans for next year. You may need to reach out, rather than wait, to become part of a community that watches out for each other. Night Out is the 1st tues in August every year. Someone in the neighborhood coordinates it, but they can’t guess you want to come too. Generally a block watch group includes people who can see each others’ homes so that they can notice anthing amiss.

    Our group seems to expand every year. Elimination of the City’s crime prevention program won’t stop us, but could hamper the forming and training of new groups. I believe in prevention. Too bad it rates so low in budget priorities. This is a great group of public servants. But don’t blame them for your lack of community contacts.

  • 3 kal // Aug 4, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    I am sorry that gb felt left out. As one of those folks that does the coordinating of our block party every year, I can say that I don’t always have time to go further than our own block to see who may be interested in joining us. I work full time and my schedule has been super busy this year so if you would like to take over this duty, I would gladly give it up. I have in the past left flyers at homes near our block but have gotten very limited participation from those outside of our block.

  • 4 Tim // Aug 4, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    gb I agree the elimination of these jobs shouldn’t end the Seattle Night Out. I’m not sure how much organization really needs to take place to actually make it happen. It seems like neighborhoods take care of most of the work themselves.

    As for awareness our street was emailing one another to not duplicate dishes and talking about it all the way up to the date. But then again we have an email list of everyone on the block. Its actually not a bad idea. Perhaps you could reach out to your neighbors and start a an email list. It also helps with communication about unusual events happening, seeing reoccurring questionable characters etc. Just an idea.

  • 5 Nigh Out supporter // Aug 4, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    Night Out is a responsibility of the Crime Prevention team. It was started across the country to help neighbors connect to they can work together to prevent crime. A great side benefit is community building.

    The union rules under which the Crime Prevention team work provide that if their jobs are eliminated, no one can do any of the work they do for (I think) two years. So, no one at the city of Seattle can do anything related to Night Out.

  • 6 MomBug // Aug 4, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    I see no reason why Night Out would have to stop though its a shame that the budget is being wacked. We might have to supply our own barricades but we did so in the beginning in many places.

    Those who feel left out should remember that this is a neighborhood block Night Out. No one is elected leader. Just pitch in and help and participate.

  • 7 My initials are GB too :-) // Aug 6, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    How was this publicized at the organizing stage? While I have heard of this in previous years and I suppose could have researched it, I didn’t hear about this year’s until the day of (or possibly the day before). This year I moved to a block that would seem to be a good candidate for it, quiet street, lots of ways around the block.

  • 8 Night Out supporter // Aug 7, 2010 at 11:28 am

    My initials are GB too :-) – Night Out is publicized by the Neighborhood Crime Prevention team at SPD. It is advertised through block watch groups, the city web site, local blog, newspapers and through word of mouth.