OpEd

Story published: 10-22-2013 • Print ArticleE-mail Story to a Friend

Town’s public safety in good hands


Helping low-income families put Christmas presents under their trees. Checking on the homebound and elderly within town. Installing a child’s carseat in the back of a vehicle.

These are but a few of the things members of the Jonesborough police department do on a regular basis to help citizens in our community.

Matthew Hawkins, chief of Jonesborough Public Safety, is quick to point out “crime is not all we do” although he promises that, when necessary, his officers are ready to handle it.

The agency’s preferred function is that of public safety — assisting the community where needed. That is accomplished through training, outreach, cooperation, education, interaction with the community and professionalism.

Training is the foundation.

Baseline state training, augmented by local training, ensures officers are prepared to meet threats, properly use equipment, and interact effectively with the community.

Officers are cross-trained in EMS and fire disciplines, responding to those calls when needed, too.

It is good knowing that when officers arrive after an accident or incident, they are trained to help us in so many ways.

But it is the things these officers do behind the scenes that are truly admirable.

The Shop with a Cop program has grown phenomenally over the years as dozens of law enforcement officers volunteer their time to go shopping with underprivileged children during the holiday season.

Those same officers help raise the thousands of dollars it takes to put on the program each year.

Jonesborough’s finest have always been quick to volunteer their services at other events, too.

Their police K9s and handlers often make appearances at activities in and around town — from demonstrations at the American Cancer Society’s Bark For Life event to visits at area schools.

Such activities establish positive relationships early on for children and other members of the community.

Meanwhile, certified officers are available at almost any time of day to help motorists properly install carseats in their vehicles.

Today’s car seats are “impossible” to figure out. Just ask any grandparent!

“Rape Aggression Defense” classes for womenare are regularly offered while kids can take part in “Resisting Aggression Defensively” classes to learn things such as how to avoid dog bites or bullying.

For our elderly, the is the R-U-OK program.

Each day dispatchers and officers call and check on those who are elderly and living alone to ensure they are OK and to remind them that someone cares.

Several interventions have resulted, where help was needed and officers responded, possibly saving a life.

Jonesborough Public Safety includes 17 officers and four dispatchers plus a significant number of volunteer reserve officers.

Whether it is for our youngest, oldest, or those in between, Jonesborough’s trained public safety professionals have established and maintained programs to build relationships, to protect and care for our residents and guests, making it a great place to live or visit.

So, when you see them, just say, “Thanks” for all they do ­— because they do a lot.