Redmond's community outreach facilitator Jim Bove has worked hard to foster a sense of communication both within the and with the community since he first arrived here in late 2007 from a university administrative position he held in Georgia.
Since then, the native Virginian says he’s also grown to love Redmond and the Pacific Northwest.
“I can see myself raising a family here,” Bove says, and that’s saying something, because he’s seen a lot of the country’s other options.
When he isn’t working for the Police Department, organizing quarterly meetings for neighborhood watch captains, faith community leaders, or apartment managers, or volunteering with the Special Olympics or the Susan G. Komen 3-Day For the Cure, Bove travels the country to reach his goal of visiting all 50 states—he has five more to go.
Bove is the first non-commissioned public information officer in the Department; previously the position was filled by police officers who took turns doing the job every few years, which made it difficult to continue some efforts from one PIO to the next.
As the first permanent civilian in the job, Bove has brought fresh eyes to the department’s goals of crime prevention and community outreach. In his first year working with the department, the improvements were dramatic enough that Bove was awarded the department’s Civilian of the Year award in 2008.
One of the larger annual efforts that Bove coordinates here to help neighbors connect with each other and with public safety is National Night Out Against Crime, an event in which neighborhoods hold block parties on one night—this year Tuesday, Aug. 2—to promote unity and feeling safer in the neighborhoods.
“Knowing your neighbors is huge,” Bove says, which is why Redmond follows a block party model instead of throwing one huge party for the whole city, as some other cities do.
The parties can take any form that each group decides, from wine tastings to barbecues or potlucks. Anyone can hold a party, but block parties that register with the police department by Tuesday, July 26, will also get on the priority list for city staffers to come out and visit during the event. Last year there was a record 41 parties, and so far 38 groups have signed up for this year.
Bove says police including the K-9 unit, fire, and code enforcement officers, and the mayor will be among those visiting parties.
With some less flashy city roles such as code enforcement officer, Bove says it’s a good opportunity for them to get out into the community in a positive way, because though what they do is very important, code enforcement officers don’t frequently get to have the more positive interactions with residents.
Bove himself, however, will be missing the actual fun at the parties, as he has every year. True to his behind the scenes, make-it-happen nature, he’ll be back at headquarters during the event, coordinating the visits to try to ensure that all 40 local parties get at least one visit by city staff.
“I’ll be piecing it all together so every party gets a visitor,” Bove says.
This may seem a little surprising without knowing that Bove, who loves his position as the public liaison for the department, is a self-described introvert.
“I’m fine with being around people all day, but it wears me out, too,” he says. To unwind, he plays sports and enjoys visiting the tourist sites right in our back yard that people often don’t think to go to unless relatives come to town.
In the end, Bove says that for him, being a catalyst to help bridge the gap so people understand the role of the police and other city safety workers and get the opportunity to work together on efforts such as National Night Out Against Crime, is a perfect fit for him, and he says it’s important to note that it takes the whole community to make these events successful.
“National Night Out and everything I do is contingent on the people I work with,” he said.