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Get to know your officers: National Night Out set for Aug. 7
Jul 26, 2012 12:00 am
If you want to reduce crime in your neighborhood, come out of the house and get to know your neighbors and your law enforcement officers.
That's the message Tuesday, Aug. 7, when neighborhoods throughout Wilson County are invited to join forces with thousands of communities nationwide for the 29th Annual National Night Out crime and drug prevention event.
National Night Out, sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch and co-sponsored locally by the Wilson County Sheriffs Department, will involve over 15,325 communities from all 50 states. In all, over 37.1 million people are expected to participate in “America's Night Out Against Crime.”
The sheriff's department will be working with the Lebanon Police Department to have a display at the Don Fox Park from 5 to 9 p.m. in Lebanon. At this annual event, WCSD deputies will be doing fingerprints for children, speaking about the different aspects of the sheriffs department. On display will be the WCSD's patrol boat, mobile command center, SWAT vehicles, patrol horses, search and rescue dogs and a jail transport van to give everyone, especially children, a look at what real crime fighting looks like.
"It gives the community an up close and personal chance to look at the equipment we use," said Sheriff Terry Ashe of the celebration planned for the park. "We try to have give aways for the kids to make it interesting for them. There was a big turn out last year at the park, it's a good place to have it. The LPD and ourselves are two of the largest agencies who are there. All the employees volunteer to do this. It's good community relations."
LPD Chief Scott Bowen is happy his department is taking part in the NNO by again helping sponsor the event in the park.
"The NNO was created to bring attention to crime prevention and remember the victims of crimes," Bowen said. "We use it as a community policing tool. Last year was our first year and this year will be even bigger, and I can't say enough about the community support."
He noted that people, kids in particular, are less frightened of cops once they know them.
"It's proven that a citizen, or young person, is more likely to reach out to a police officer if they know the officer," he said, adding that he also has a selfish motive for that night at the park. "We use it as a recruiting tool, we're always looking for new officers and dispatchers."
During that same time as the activities in the park, deputies will also be doing a flashlight walk with each of the current registered Neighborhood Watch Groups in Wilson County. Deputies will walk with the residents throughout their neighborhood. This will give everyone a chance to meet their local officers and get to know them, which makes it more comfortable for people to contact them should the need arise.
National Night Out is designed to: Heighten crime and drug prevention awareness; Generate support for, and participation in, local anti-crime efforts; Strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships; and send a message to criminals letting them know neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.
That evening, from 5 to 9 p.m., residents in neighborhoods throughout Wilson County and across the nation, are asked to lock their doors, turn on their outside lights and spend the evening outside with neighbors and police. Many neighborhoods throughout Wilson County will be hosting a variety of special events such as block parties, cookouts, have visits from Sheriffs deputies and flashlight walks.
"In the county we'll be touching base with our block captains and keep the line of communications open between the law enforcement officer and the general public," Ashe explained.
Aug. 7, also marks the beginning of the WCSD's newest program called “Project 365” a goal setting program also sponsored by the NNO. This years goal is to expand the Neighborhood Watch Groups in Wilson County.
Ashe said Neighborhood Watch groups are extra eyes that help the department keep watch over such a large area. He also noted that these groups are a lot more on the ball than they used to be and coordinate more with his deputies.
"We've trained them better and they're better organized - they Twitter and use Nextel to get the word out, they've been very helpful to us," the sheriff added. "They know the officers personally and they've built a rapport with them. This is our way of saying 'get to know your police officer.'"
If you would like more information on starting a Neighborhood Watch Group, or you would like to organize an event in your neighborhood, contact Elizabeth Anderson at the WCSD at 615-444-1412 ext 489 or email email@example.com.
Staff writer Mary Hinds may be reached at 444-3952, ext. 45 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
NNO Photo: Mary E. Hinds
The Wilson County Sheriff's Department is gearing up to join in 29th Annual National Night Out Tuesday, Aug. 7, to promote crime and drug prevention. Shown here Sheriff Terry Ashe, Elizabeth Anderson and Lt. Steve Gatlin of the WCSD with a sign on the grounds of the sheriff's department promoting the event.