On one evening every year the community is invited to meet its first responders outside of the emergencies that typically bring them together.

The 10th annual National Night Out Against Crime in Monroe will start at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 7, at Lake Tye Park. Organizers say it is one of the biggest events in the county, if not the state. As many as 3,000 people turn up to watch demonstrations, talk with agency representatives and take part in the many National Night Out activities.

That count is exceptional, especially for a smaller community like Monroe, said Sally Petty. The Monroe Rotary Club member and former president has helped coordinate the event since its local beginnings.

“It just feels a little like small-town USA, because everyone knows everyone, and the weather is usually pretty spectacular,” Petty said.

She first hosted a booth at the 2007 National Night Out. The event had given her business more visibility, and she was disappointed to hear the following year that Monroe Police was struggling to put it on due to a lack of funding. She suggested the Monroe Rotary take care of the finances for the following year.

“It has become such a key event in Monroe that rotary is so so proud of,” Petty said.

Snohomish County Fire District 7 also got on board, and Monroe Parks and Recreation also plays a big role in the annual collaboration.

Another former rotary president, Katy Woods, said last year the goal is to build relationships between different community groups. That includes business and other nonprofits. Anyone in town can set up an informational tent as long as something at their booth promotes crime prevention.

Petty said the format will stay the same this year. Monroe Police Community Service Officer Gaby Escalante said she and her partner Sgt. Ryan Irving have been preparing since March.

She said the agency’s two mascots will be there for families to meet, and there will be two demonstrations with their narcotics K9. Staff will host different booths, where the community can learn about the SWAT team and issues like car safety, crime prevention and traffic safety, she said. 

Escalante said kids can stop by and pick up a Bingo card for the Monroe Police scavenger hunt. The game will take them around to different departments and agencies, she said, and winners can come back for prizes.

The event is an opportunity for the agency to illustrate where law enforcement fits into the community, Escalante said. National Night Out is likely where the agency gets the most exposure at once, and they try to have as many staff volunteers on hand as possible.

“It is very highly attended, so we definitely want to get out as much information as we can to everybody,” she said.

Fire District 7 spokesperson Heather Chadwick said the fire response agency uses National Night Out as an opportunity to collaborate more closely with law enforcement agencies, such as the Monroe Police Department, which they work with on a daily basis. On that night they have representatives at three different events throughout Snohomish County.

“It just gives us an opportunity to have conversations with our citizens and really promote safer communities,” she said.

The agency also provides information on relevant issues, Chadwick said. Right now the state is settling into its peak wildland fire season, and so volunteers will have material for the public to learn about how the fire district participates in seasonal emergency responses, she said.

Petty said she can’t imagine Monroe not having a National Night Out, and she hopes it will always have a place in the community.

“Monroe is too key of a town to not have this kind of event every year,” she said.

National Night Out attendees can login to their Snapchat accounts, Petty said. There they will find a filter created by another rotary member commemorating the night, she said.