Annual event fosters community and law enforcement partnerships

The police in Wilsonville wants everyone out in the street — for National Night Out.

Held on the first Tuesday of August annually, National Night Out is all about connecting neighbors and preventing crime.

This year, National Night Out is Aug. 6, and residents are urged to get outside, talk to each other and even perhaps throw a party.

National Night Out started in 1984 as America’s Night Out Against Crime. It was an effort to promote crime prevention and to foster police and community partnerships. It was also a sign to crooks that neighborhoods plagued with crime were ready to fight back.

That first year, 2.5 million Americans took part across 400 communities in 23 states. Today, National Night Out involves more than 37 million people and 15,000 communities from all 50 states, U.S. territories, Canadian cities and military bases worldwide, according to the National Night Out website.

According to Crime Prevention Coordinator Sara McClurg with the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, National Night Out “is a night for the community to get together with law enforcement.”

Typically, a neighborhood, a block or even a street will organize a get-together for National Night Out. It can be a block party complete with a potluck dinner or even an ice cream social. The point is to bring residents outdoors to connect with each other. Also, if police departments know an event is being organized, they can send an officer familiar with the area and its specific issues out to the party to talk with residents and answer any questions they may have.

Though National Night Out is not a Wilsonville-sponsored event, the city can assist neighborhoods in requesting visits by Wilsonville police and Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue if they are available.

Wilsonville Police Chief James Rhodes said, “National Night Out provides an opportunity for neighbors to get to know one another, heighten crime-prevention awareness and to strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships.”

McClurg said National Night Out is an opportunity for the city’s “good citizens” to meet and interact with law enforcement, which creates more of an awareness of safety and community.

Another benefit of National Night Out is getting people outside and meeting their neighbors. When people know and care about their neighbors, they tend to look out for each other’s homes and notice when someone doesn’t belong in the area.

“The more people you know living in your midst, the better off you are,” McClurg said. She added that National Night Out is often just a starting point for neighbors who continue to socialize and interact.

In Happy Valley, McClurg said there is a huge event at Happy Valley Park that continues to grow each year. And the Overall Park Coalition Against Drug Crime in Milwaukie, which is holding its 12th annual event, attracts more than 400 people each year. The Overland group formed when the neighborhood was riddled with drug activity and the residents decided to come together and take back their neighborhood, McClurg said.

But not every event needs to be large to be effective. Even a potluck or a barbecue works.

“It can be that simple,” McClurg said. “It’s been a very successful event and a great opportunity to draw residents together in a very positive way.”

Those who register their events for free online with the national website ( will receive an organizational kit with guidelines and suggestions. Also, if residents make a request from the city or the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, arrangements can be made for law enforcement to visit the event.

If events are held on private property and do not block street traffic, no city permits are required. However, if residents wish to close a street to traffic or to hold an event on public property or a park, a permit is needed.

To request a visit, contact Assistant City Manager Jeanna Troha at 503-570-1520 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. For permit information, contact Recreation Coordinator Brian Stevenson at 503-570-1523 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

by:  NATIONAL NIGHT OUT - Not every National Night Out event needs to be a big one, although some community events draw hundreds of people, such as this one in Santa Monica.

Crime prevention tips

Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office Crime Prevention Officer Sara McClurg offers the following crime prevention tips.

Car break-ins:
Don’t be complacent and think your vehicle is safe just because it is in your driveway or parked in front of your home. Lock the doors and remove all valuables from inside, including the GPS. Wallets stashed in consoles are the No. 1 hit recently, according to McClurg, which can lead to identity theft.

Criminal mischief:
This activity tends to spike in the summer months, ranging from graffiti to slashed tires. Help deter criminal mischief by installing motion sensor lights and leave lighting on in front of the house overnight.

Thieves can be brazen, so to detour them, make your home look as occupied as possible. Put lights on timers, leave a radio playing, make thieves question whether or not someone is at home. Sometimes, thieves dress in uniforms and knock on doors, and when no one answers will sneak around back and break in.

McClurg said vigilant neighbors help prevent crimes and urged residents to be proactive about calling police with suspicious activity.

“It give us the opportunity to stop a burglary before it happens,” she said.

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