SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Several cities around East Tennessee hosted National Night Out events on Tuesday as part of a nationwide effort to strengthen the relationship between citizens and law enforcement.
WATE 6 On Your Side reporter Elizabeth Kuebel observed the Sevierville Police Department’s event, as the campaign happened in Sevierville for the first time in eleven years.
“It’s about interaction. It’s about us interacting with our community, so they can know us better, we can know them better,” said Bob Stahlke with the City of Sevierville.
National Night Out gives community members of all ages a peak inside the law enforcement world.
“It’s a good thing for people to learn about police and not to do bad things, drugs, like that stuff,” said one young attendee.
“They met police officers and they know they are nice and helpful, and firemen save lives and put out fires,” said Barbara Helton, attending with her great-grandsons.
Some of the officers at departments here have been through tough times in the last few months, such as responding to a random shooting at the Tanger Outlets back in April. Two died, including the shooter.
“Tragedies like that, what they can do, the positive thing that can come out of them is that sometimes it can build that community relationship even better. The community comes together, they rally around everybody, law enforcement and the residents. And I think that’s what we did,” said Stahlke.
That’s what their focus continues to be at National Night Out – bringing a sense of community and continuing to build and strengthen relationships.
“We want their trust. I know that’s really difficult in this day and age, it really is, and we want our community to know that we’re behind them, and it’s important to for us to know that they’re behind us as well,” Stahlke said.
Statewide, 51 cities take part in National Night Out. Cities recognize it on the first Tuesday in August or the first Tuesday in October.