When you normally think of our men and women in blue, visions of crime scenes, high speed chases and flashing lights usually come to mind. However, since the fall of 2018, members of the Knoxville Police Department have been focusing on new ways to change some of those perceptions.
“I think a lot of times people look at the police department and they see the people you see in all the news stories. They see the people making these arrests… going on chases and other things”, says Elizabeth Malone the Youth Volunteer Program Director for KPD. “But this shows you that there is a true person behind that uniform.”
What Malone is referring to is the Go Big! Knoxville program, which is aimed at helping area youth through a partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters.
“One mentor is matched with one mentee based on common interest, common personality traits, common hobbies and they get together about once a week for a minimum of one year”, says Malone. “The goal is just to provide them with better opportunities in life.”
To spearhead Go Big! Knoxville, a number of KPD officers have volunteered their time to become a mentor to local youth.
“The program serves students between the ages of 6 and 17. All the children in our program come from a wide variety of backgrounds,” says Malone.
Officers believe in the good of the cause.
“I think when you look at the programs the city are doing now, when you look at Go Big! Knox and you look at the emphasis the city of Knox and the Knoxville police department have put on helping our youth and getting involved. I think it’s an initiative that’s getting its feet under it and growing right now,” says 8-year KPD veteran B.K. Hardin.
Hardin, who for the last three years has been a Big Brother in the programs 2.0 mentor program, says there’s no excuse for people not to give their time if it means benefiting area youth.
“It’s a great, rewarding opportunity”, says Hardin, “Most people will say I don’t have time, but you have time for what you find is important. And there’s nothing more important than our youth and their future.”
Besides volunteering their time, KPD is also looking for local residents to volunteer as the goal of Go Big Knox is to match 100 area youth with 100 mentors by June 2020.
If you would like to find out more, you can email Elizabeth Malone with KPD at Emalone@KnoxvilleTn.gov.