This summer's intense heat has given the Knoxville Police Department reason to make a long-desired change to its National Night Out schedule. KPD has delayed the annual event that normally occurs the first week of August until October 2.
"Heat is the one concern we hear from participants each year. The extreme heat and high humidity in the annual August event prevents many of our residents from participating due to health concerns," said KPD Chief David Rausch. "By moving the event to October temperatures will be cooler, which will allow for greater participation."
KPD's move follows the lead of several major cities that postponed the event due to an oppressive heat wave.
"The heat wave is sort of the straw that broke the camel's back, so to speak," said Darrell DeBusk, KPD spokesperson. "Places like Texas have moved it to October 2 and we want to make this event as comfortable for people as possible."
The National Night Out provides neighbors and law enforcement to get together and become acquainted in a friendly setting. The event frequently takes the shape of a neighborhood picnic with ice cream socials and grilled food.
"Something we see all the time is people live right next to each other and don't know their neighbor's name," said DeBusk. "Getting people to know each other and look out for one another is a great way to curtail crime. We want this event to succeed because it is vital to every community it takes place in. We think moving the event to October will increase participation."
National Night Out is designed to heighten crime and drug prevention awareness. It also generates support for and participation in anticrime programs while strengthening neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships.
"With more people getting involved in their neighborhood's National Night Out activities, a clear message is sent to criminals by letting them know their neighborhood is organized and fighting back," said Rausch.
Long-time National Night Out participant Joan Yearwood supports the new schedule. Yearwood helps organize the Norwood neighborhood watch and said National Night Out makes a positive impact.
"National Night Out is always very popular. A lot of times it gets more people interested in coming to the neighborhood watch meetings," said Yearwood. "Moving it to October 2nd is a good idea. Everybody I've talked to is happy about that."