Hundreds of residents on about 210 streets take part in the city’s crime-fighting Neighborhood Watch program, and that’s helping to cut down on illegal activity, Oak Ridge Police Officer Jeremy Upham said Tuesday.
“I think, personally, it’s making a huge impact,” said Upham, the police department’s liaison to the Neighborhood Watch program. “The neighbors are calling when they see suspicious things that don’t fit in.”
The Neighborhood Watch program adds several streets each year, Upham said. The program generally includes two “block captains” per street and other members who report to them.
He said a Tuesday night “National Night Out” at the Oak Ridge Civic Center and A.K. Bissell Park was meant to show appreciation to the Neighborhood Watch volunteers and build relationships between the police and the community.
That annual event focuses on crime and drug prevention programs, and it includes a range of activities such as music, food, entertainment for children, K-9 demonstrations by the Oak Ridge Police Department and Anderson County Sheriff’s Department, bucket rides in an Oak Ridge Electric Department truck, and an East Tennessee Methamphetamine Task Force trailer.
An anti-bullying seminar for children was new this year.
Some events had to be canceled, however, due to a threatening storm that dumped heavy rain on Oak Ridge about midway through the four-hour celebration, which started at 4 p.m. An adult self-defense class, the K-9 demonstrations, and laser tag had to be canceled, Upham said.
Upham estimated that 800 people attended the National Night Out, but the rain dampened attendance.
The local “National Night Out” is organized by the City of Oak Ridge and the Oak Ridge Neighborhood Watch Program. The Anderson County Sheriff’s Department also participates.