Wednesday, August 8, 2012

National Night Out

It was National Night Out last night, August 7. Our local law enforcement, Port of Seattle Police, come out to the marina, set up the grills and cook up all the hot dogs and hamburgers marina patrons can shovel down.

They bring all the coolest tech they have for us to drool over. This year, we got to tour the Harbor Patrol jet boat. I learned that the police divers in Puget Sound wear dry suits exclusively (our water is freaking cold) by OSHA regulation. Apparently, our water is also of questionable enough quality that the divers are required to wear full face masks, too. This works out, because the divers then have voice communication to one another and to the boat at the surface.

The SWAT truck was back - one that I'm happy to say only comes to Shilshole for this yearly show and tell event. New to me this year was the bomb disposal unit and the robots the police use.
The older robot is on the right (near the cab of the truck. A brand new model is on the far left. Again, this public relations event is the only time we've ever seen the bomb disposal unit out near our boats and most of us living aboard would really, really like to keep it that way.

The Port of Seattle encompasses not just our marina, but the whole commercial shipping industry and Seatac Airport. Most of this high tech gear spends the bulk of the year out at the airport and occassionally inspecting shipping containers. One officer told us that most of their 'bomb' calls are in response to people screwing around with chemicals in the garage - home made fireworks and improvised explosives. So be careful with those chemistry sets and when you're watching the Youtube videos about how to build your own fireworks? Think about the ignominy of having to explain to your homeowner's insurance agent just why the bomb disposal unit was parked in front of your place (when there wasn't a National Night Out BBQ taking place).

We enjoy this event every year. Since we've been to four out of the past five years (cruising last year made us miss), we're beginning to recognize officers and several have begun to recognize us. The officer who mentioned he definitely recognized me, laughed and assured me it's a good thing. I hadn't wondered until he said that. :)

The event is about building relationships and trust with the community. Officers make a special effort to interact with the children - sure most of them have kids of their own and are genuinely fond of children - but it's also a terrific way for them to put young children at ease around officers in uniform in a safe setting. The liveaboards at Shilshole, including our youngest residents, turn out en masse for this BBQ every year. We're a small community of about 300 households. We try to look out for one another. Most issues at Shilshole revolve around a little too much alcohol, but we've had at least two known instances of stalking in the five years we've been here, too. What's really nice is knowing that we can call the Port of Seattle police for help, and the chances are, any one of the responders will be an officer we met at National Night Out.

Thank you to the Port of Seattle Police for the burgers and for indulging our curiosity with such patience. Thank you to the Shilshole Bay Marina staff for hosting all the festivities.

My favorite part of the evening? As we were walking back to our boat, we passed one of the police cars. Poking out of a briefcase in the front seat was a little stuffed pig. I wish I'd gotten a photo.

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