Oak Harbor: Oh what a Night Out

Public meets military, law enforcement

More than 1,000 people enjoyed a night out Tuesday evening at Windjammer Park in Oak Harbor.

The throng participated in the annual National Night Out, which helps residents better connect with law enforcement and emergency personnel.

“I think it went wonderfully,” said Cathy Niiro, executive director for the United Way of Island County and one of the organizers of the event. “I think the law enforcement community was well represented as well as the military.”

National Night Out, which takes place the first Tuesday in August, offers adults and kids a chance to see demonstrations and see first-hand the equipment law enforcement use.

One highlight of the event, which took place at Windjammer Park, was NAS Whidbey Island’s Search and Rescue team demonstrating a rescue from a helicopter.

“The kids were impressed with the demonstration,” Niiro said. Once rescuers finished the exercise the helicopter landed in the park so people could get an up-close look at the machine.

K-9 officers from the base demonstrated how their dogs would attack a suspect, and there was also a mock DUI crash.

The Impaired Driving Impact Panel of Island County brought goggles that simulate how people would act when they are drunk.

Niiro said National Night Out is a way for the community to engage law enforcement and first responders. Local fire departments were also among the 55 or so organizations that had booths during the event.

Niiro said the evening also provided a good recruiting tool for law enforcement and emergency services.

Work organizing National Night Out starts in February and gets intense about a month before the event. She said help from Oak Harbor Fire Department Battalion Chief Ray Merrill, Oak Harbor Police Officer Cedric Niiro, Island County Sheriff Mark Brown and John McPherson from the base were instrumental in putting the evening together.

Niiro said the day went well and was grateful of the warm weather that helped make the night an enjoyable time for volunteers and residents alike.

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