Aug. 6 will bring three community events to Tazewell County aimed at fostering police-community partnerships and relationships.
The Richlands and Cedar Bluff police departments, the Town of Tazewell Police Department and the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office will host National Night Out events in Richlands, Tazewell and Abbs Valley.
Cedar Bluff Police Chief Mike Brown said the nationwide events allow the community to get out and have positive face-to-face encounters with their local law enforcement officers.
“It’s a good opportunity for the community to see police officers in a different light, especially showing kids that we’re not always the bad guy, that we do care about the community,” Brown said. “This shows the other side of police work, it exposes the community to another side of law enforcement.”
This year marks Cedar Bluff’s first year participating in the event and Brown said he’s excited his department will be a part of it. The CBPD will co-host their event with the Richlands PD at the Richlands department. At that event, community members will get a chance to check out police equipment and vehicles, watch demonstrations and chat with those charged with protecting and serving their neighborhoods.
In its third year, the Tazewell event will be held at Lincolnshire Park, where community members will have similar opportunities to interact with local law enforcement.
Both Brown and Tazewell Police Chief David Mills believe the event helps counterbalance the negative reputations often bestowed upon the law enforcement community as a whole, they said.
“It gives a better understanding of what we do and why we’re here,” Mills said. “This just gives us a way to get out there and show that we’re not what people think we are—we’re parents and aunts and uncles and grandparents and so on. We’re just like everybody else, we’re no different.”
Over at Abb’s Valley Elementary School, the Sheriff’s Office will hold their fifth National Night Out Event. There, officers with the Sheriff’s Office will let their inner child out to play.
“We’re interacting with our kids, we’re out there dancing with them, we’re in the bouncy houses with them, we have water balloon fights with them,” said Tazewell County Sheriff’s Maj. Harold Heatley.
“It’s important for us to be a part of the community and interact with the kids out there,” he said. “We try to have a lot of fun with the kids and just want to be an encouragement to them and have a positive relationship with our youth.”
Inflatable bounce houses, dunking booths and other games and activities are planned for the events, as is the doling out of school supplies. Each agency is partnering with other area businesses, organizations and community members to collect backpacks and other need supplies for local students.
In addition, the sheriff’s office will also offer the customary back-to-school haircut free of charge to area students.
Drop off locations for school supplies can be found by contacting the participating law enforcement agencies.
Each event is scheduled to kick off at 5 p.m. Food and refreshment will be provided.