Music echoed in downtown Loudon and first responder vehicle lights shined when the community got an opportunity last week to meet with local law enforcement as part of National Night Out.
A portion of downtown was shut off from traffic 5-8 p.m. Aug. 6 for the public to walk around and speak with law enforcement at booths, peruse local vendors, play mini games and jump in bounce houses.
Agencies present were Loudon County Sheriff’s Office, Loudon Police and Fire departments, Loudon County E-911 Center, Tennessee Highway Patrol and Priority Ambulance.
“It gives the chance for all the citizens to come out and meet the local police officers and so it’s just kind of fellowship and just to have a good time,” Loudon Police Sgt. Scott Newman said. “So many times all we deal with is bad situations, somebody’s had an accident or there’s a fight or something like that. Right here they show the human side of us police officers. ... We’ve got some coloring books, some safety stuff for everybody. We’ve got bracelets and stuff.”
National Night Out is the first Tuesday in August and promotes a police-community partnership in neighborhoods across the nation. According to the National Night Day Out website, the day “focuses on the community and raising awareness through camaraderie,” with hopes of making neighborhoods safer.
“It’s a time and day usually set aside in August for law enforcement agencies to come together,” Loudon County Sheriff Tim Guider said. “I mean, you can do it as an agency or a group of agencies and have the community come in. It’s a good time for the law enforcement and community to mingle together and just have a good time. Let them know that we’re their friends and here for them and reciprocate that the community supports us.”
Guider estimated the last National Night Out was 10 years ago at Loudon’s public pool.
“I think it was more some of the county officers wanted to promote the whole community coming together, which we’re a part of that as well and we want to encourage that. So it was a good opportunity to do that and bring the city, county, everybody together,” Loudon Mayor Jeff Harris said. “What we’d like to do is rotate locations — Loudon this year, Lenoir City next year, maybe Greenback after that. Just try to tie in all the locations in the county.”
Harris was part of the committee that helped put the event together.
“It promotes downtown, which is what we’re all about,” Harris said. “That’s why we’re doing the Wharf Street Markets third Saturday of every month, try to draw people downtown and try to get used to being down here and this is a good event to try to do that.”
Although Priority didn’t have a booth, an ambulance was on site to allow people to take a look inside.
“That way they can actually come in, we can take the kids in the ambulance, show them some of the equipment and put some of it on them so that they can see that not everything in there is going to hurt them,” Travis Estes, Priority Ambulance Emergency Medical Services director for Loudon County, said. “That way, again, if they get in a real situation, they’ll already be a little bit familiar with the devices they may see and the crews because a lot of times they think that once they get in the ambulance that they’re going to be by their self, which is not true obviously. The paramedic’s going to be with them from the time we get them until we deliver them to the emergency room, and that’s one thing that we can ease their minds with.”