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Arlington police take part in 'National Night Out'
ARLINGTON In conjunction with the National Association of Town Watch, the city of Arlington Police Department took part in the National Night Out, Aug. 5, at the Arlington Police Station.
Arlington Police Officer Mike Gilbert was showing off police dog Annie to fascinated children and adults alike.
During Gilbert's five-year career on the force, he spent three years on a proactive team that specifically targeted offenders, many of whom deal in drugs.
"When the opportunity came up to become a K-9 officer, I took it," Gilbert said. "It's another tool in my box to fight crime. Annie's a smart dog and her nose has a greater sense of smell than I could hope to have."
By bringing Annie to local schools and events like the Night Out Against Crime, Gilbert believes he can help send the message that the city is actively combating illegal drugs.
"Even the dealers and other folks we take to jail are starting to get the word," Gilbert said. "We now have two police dogs, which means that at least one is on patrol every day."
At the same time, Gilbert enjoys the positive attention that Annie receives from children.
"The kids see she's friendly," Gilbert said. "Between us and their parents, it can give them the extra push they might need to avoid making wrong decisions."
Arlington Police Officer Lisa Wojciechowicz works even more closely with the city's youth during the school year, as a school resource officer at Arlington High School.
Wojciechowicz handles law enforcement situations ranging from fights and assaults to thefts, illegal drugs and other criminal activities at the high school, where she also serves as on-site security.
"I'm also a part-time lay counselor," Wojciechowicz said. "I educate students on drug awareness, personal and Internet security, and how the law enforcement system works."
Wojciechowicz also coordinates with the fire department on the city's emergency management plan and consults with the school district on truancy and students in need of supervision.
"What I hope people get out of events like this is to take ownership of their own safety and property," Wojciechowicz said. "Our other goal is to make the community's relationship with the police a proactive one, rather than reactive."
Diana Rose, from the Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management, was on hand to distribute informational fliers on topics ranging from disaster preparedness to graffiti prevention.
"We've told other towns and cities about the 'Map Your Neighborhood' program that you've been doing," Rose told Christine Badger, Arlington community emergency management coordinator. "The mayors of Goldbar and Granite Falls really want to do it."
Badger handed out "Vials of L.I.F.E.," a container with medical information forms to fill out, to be used in the event of emergencies.
She also invited community members to attend the "Map Your Neighborhood" facilitator class, Sept. 11, at 6:30 p.m. in the Arlington City Council Chambers.