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Marysville, Tulalip team up for A Night Out Against Crime | SLIDESHOW
MARYSVILLE — Tulalip Tribal Police Sgt. Sherman Pruitt’s face lit up with each child that stopped by his table.
“Hey, how you doing?” Pruitt greeted them, before offering them candy and heat-sensitive pencils that change color. “You want some Scooby snacks? Give me a high-five!”
Pruitt is a powerfully built man who easily towers over even the tallest of children and adults alike, but for the past three National Nights Out Against Crime in the Marysville and Tulalip communities, he’s made a habit of hunching over to try and meet curious kids at their eye-level, all while grinning nearly ear-to-ear.
“The great thing about the National Night Out is that we get to talk to these kids, and they get to see us in a whole different light, rather than just when we’re responding to incidents,” Pruitt said on Tuesday, Aug. 6, as Comeford Park in Marysville hosted this year’s Night Out. “We want kids and adults both to know that members of law enforcement are approachable, because we’re members of the community, just like them.”
One difference between law enforcement and regular citizens that the former were only too happy to show off was their toys, as Marysville Police Sgt. Rick Sparr invited children to check out the interior of an armored car and showed them how to work the remote controls of a small robot, equipped with all-terrain treads and a real-time video camera, enclosed in a protective transparent dome, that can be aimed in virtually any direction.
“The tracks let it climb up stairs,” Sparr told a group of children who had crowded around him, while showing them the camera’s video feed on the remote control. “The robot’s view lets us clear areas of buildings without having to put our guys in any danger.”
At the same time, the Marysville Volunteer Program aimed to show that even ordinary seniors can supplement law enforcement efforts, as MVP supervisor Ron Wagner listed its duties as including checks of houses, schools and businesses, as well as patrols of schools and parking spaces, the latter to ensure that handicapped spots aren’t being stolen, and even looking out for illegal signs.
“Illegal signs are a huge issue,” said Wagner, who estimated that the MVP’s current membership numbers 16, and wouldn’t mind adding six more members to the group. “Garage sale signs, business signs or any other types of signs are not allowed on telephone poles or stop signs. It’s against the municipal code and it can run you a $250 fine.”
The MVP’s members also volunteer for security and traffic control, for community events as varied as the Marysville Strawberry Festival and Street Festival, and their arsenal now includes both a radar gun and a speed trailer.
“It’s a good reason to get out of the house,” said Daryl Moses, the longest-standing member of the current MVP, having joined in 2000. “You don’t want to vegetate. This keeps us busy.”
Snohomish County Deputy Sheriff Brandon McCullar thanked the Tulalip Tribes for contributing enough “Pennies for Puppies” to fund the two tracking dogs, 7-year-old Lidar and 3-year-old Jack, whose skills he and Deputy Jim Gibson demonstrated that afternoon.
“These aren’t mean dogs,” McCullar said. “Their primary focus is as a location tool, but they do have the ability to bite, to apprehend a suspect. If a suspect flees on foot, these dogs are our only tool to locate them, through their sense of smell. We train them to bite on the sleeve, which is their favorite toy, and not on the leg or anywhere else. They’re the only use of force that we can recall, if the suspect surrenders.”
Snohomish County Prosecutor Mark Roe visited half a dozen Nights Out Against Crime throughout the county on Aug. 6, including those in Marysville, Arlington and Smokey Point.
“What I’m noticing is a lot more neighborhood Nights Out, which is cool to see,” Roe said at Comeford Park that afternoon. “A number of individual housing developments are staging their own Nights Out, which gives people who have lived on the same blocks for years a chance to get to know each other.”
Roe also singled out the partnership between the Marysville and Tulalip communities for praise, noting that their annual Nights Out Against Crime alternate between Comeford Park in Marysville and the Tulalip Amphitheatre.
“The relationship between the Tulalip Tribes and local law enforcement would be the envy of communities everywhere,” Roe said. “Of course, the best law enforcement is your neighbors. If you see something suspicious going on in your neighborhood, don’t assume someone else has already called it in.”
Ryan and Allira Nielsen have lived in the Marysville and Arlington areas all their lives, but this year marked their first Night Out Against Crime, primarily due to the family they’ve just recently started together.
“We wanted to give these little guys something fun to do, and maybe learn some stuff for ourselves,” said Ryan Nielsen, who reported that their two sons enjoyed eating free hot dogs from the Marysville Kiwanis Club, getting kid-sized firefighter hats and sitting on Washington State Patrol motorcycles. “We grabbed some emergency preparation pamphlets, to help make our home safer. Everything here tonight is designed to help you help yourself and those around you.”