A group of Maryville children recently got the chance to see how different law enforcement agencies in Blount County work.
They learned about the police and fire departments in Maryville and visited McGhee Tyson Airport to see law enforcement, military and fire personnel work on that property. They visited the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and met rangers there and also toured a youth detention facility where they saw teens incarcerated.
Jason Barham, community policing unit director with Maryville Police Department, said Kids on Patrol is a weeklong academy started by officer Bill Hughes in 2000. The academy is for children living on Maryville Housing Authority properties, Barham said.
“We try to use that program to interact with children and let them see emergency personnel in a different light,” Barham said. “We hopefully give them an opportunity to interact with us and see us in a different light as someone who is going to protect them,” he said. “It’s really all about team work, and everyone working together to accomplish a mission.”
Activities include field trips and an up-close look at many different service and law enforcement fields. “We take a field trip to Cades Cove and learn about the duties of a park ranger,” Barham said. “We also take them to the juvenile facility in Dandridge and let them see what it’s like if they make the wrong decision and where they could end up.
Barham said he works with Terry Elmore with Maryville Housing Authority. After parents submit applications, Elmore picks the participants. Those chosen are usually between ages 7 and 12, Barham said.
The weeklong event starts with Maryville Police Chief Tony Crisp meeting and swearing in all the Kids Academy members. “We usually end it with a trip to Thunder World where they have an opportunity to bowl, play games, have a picnic and receive gifts from us,” said Barham.