By Keeli Parkey
Sheriff Mike Hensley wants Unicoi County’s citizens to watch out for one another.
“Recently, we had a rash of car burglaries in the Marbleton area, as well as in Unicoi,” Hensley told The Erwin Record. “With more people coming in because of the interstate and other activities in surrounding counties we have decided it is real important to enhance the Neighborhood Watch program. “Basically, what it is, is neighbors watching after each other. It’s not set up for people to patrol; it’s for neighbors to watch after each other. It is also a good tool for us to be able to meet with the public, let them know what we are doing and what is going on in the community they live in.”
Hensley said his department will be scheduling monthly meetings for four districts in the county to discuss the implementation of community policing practices and to recruit concerned citizens for the purpose of first hand communication with deputies to address the concerns for the communities in these districts.
“If we are working on a case and we are looking for a specific vehicle or person, through this program, we can share that with the public and they can call us and let us know if they see anything,” he added. “When you’re doing a criminal investigation, the least little thing might be what we are looking for to solve the crime. The more eyes we have out there, the better off we will be.”
The first community watch district will be south Unicoi County. All territory south of the Nolichucky River will be considered as such, according to Hensley. From the Nolichucky River to the southern border of the Town of Unicoi will be the second community watch district. The Town of Unicoi and north of Unicoi will be considered the third community watch district. Everything above Scioto Road (Limestone Cove) will be the fourth community watch district.
These meetings will be held on Tuesday evenings at 7 p.m. Below is a schedule for meeting locations and times:
• 1st Community Watch District will meet at the Temple Hill Neighborhood Watch and community center on the first Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m.
• 2nd Community Watch District will meet at Calvary Baptist Church Fellowship Hall on the second Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m.
• 3rd Community Watch District will meet at the Unicoi Church of God fellowship hall on the third Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m.
• 4th Community Watch District will meet at the Limestone Cove Community Center on the fourth Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m.
“Getting people involved is the big thing,” Hensley said. “It’s also about good communication with law enforcement. Patrol is one of the biggest deterrents in crime. We have to have help, so we decided to enhance the program. We are asking citizens to be vigilant and attend the meetings.”
Call the UCSD at 743-1864 for more information.