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National Night Out fosters community unity

Aware and cooperative neighbors are some of the most important tools for fighting crime in a community, public safety officials say.

The 24th annual National Night Out on Aug. 7 had new meaning for folks at Club Palisades apartment complex in Federal Way.

It was the first year the apartments celebrated the event, which aims to build relationships among neighbors to combat crime.

Seventeen Federal Way neighborhoods and thousands of communities nationwide celebrated the event with barbecues, potlucks, block parties, ice cream socials and visits from local police departments and government agencies.

At Club Palisades, hundreds of residents flocked to the Club Tiki celebration, featuring a DJ, barbecued hot dogs, cotton candy, face painting, swimming, children’s inflatable bouncy toy and vendors.

New property managers, who took over in May, hosted the event to foster a sense of community and reduce crime.

The apartment complex, the largest in the state with more than 700 units and 2,000 residents, has seen its share of crime over the years. There have been countless reports of car break-ins and violence erupting on the 40-acre property. Reviews on Apartmentratings.com complain about crime, shootings and drug-dealing on the premises.

“They’ve had a lot of issues,” said Federal Way Police spokeswoman Stacy Flores.

The apartment gates don’t keep crime out of the complex, said Club Palisades resident Megan Towery, 22. People jump the fence or enter through an unsecured back area, she said.

“When I was pulling through the gate one time, I noticed a guy running out the side of the gate wearing all black and a black mask,” Towery said. “Another night coming home from work, both entrances were blocked off at the complex because there had been a shooting.”

When arriving home late at night, Towery said she’s often scared walking from her car to her apartment.

Amy Curtis, the new property manager, said she aims to clean up the community and reduce crime. Since she took over, there have already been efforts to increase security. Federal Way police officer Win Waterman, who attended the event, said the department has received fewer calls at the complex in recent weeks.

Three weeks ago, two security officers began patrolling the grounds on foot from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. each day. The guards are armed with pepper spray and handcuffs — and are prepared to call police.

“If they see people out at night or in their cars, they’re just like ‘Hey, what are you doing here, are you supposed to be here,’” Curtis said.

Since the patrols began, the neighborhood has seen less vandalism, fewer car break-ins and fewer thefts, Curtis said.

“There’s been a lot of improvements,” she said. “We have several employees that live on the property as well, so that’s helpful to have extra eyes.”

In addition to several office staff who live in the complex, Club Palisades recently hired a couple from Community Northwest to live in the apartments and host events such as movie nights and community breakfasts. The team, Amber and Clint Reed, aim to foster a sense of community among neighbors. They will also provide management with additional awareness of the goings-on at Club Palisades.

Lori Orciuoli, who’s lived in the apartments for two years, said she feels safe in the complex and has already noticed improvements with security.

“They’ve kind of improved a lot around here, hired security guards, kicked out the party-ers and stuff like that,” she said.

Complex managers also aim to start a neighborhood block watch group with monthly meetings beginning in October.

Contact Margo Horner: mhorner@fedwaymirror.com or (253) 925-5565.

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