After several break-ins and two animals were shot at close range, the community of Apison has begun the process of initiating a community-wide Neighborhood Watch program.
Apison United Methodist Church Pastor Todd Chancey recently called a town hall meeting attended by more than 200 Apison residents, Hamilton County Sherriff Jim Hammond, Hamilton County Sherriff's Office Neighborhood Watch Community Relations Director Shannon Wilson and Hamilton County Trustee Bill Hullander.
"Apison is a great place to live but in the last two to three months we've seen an increase in crime," said Chancey. "We want to make sure we get on top of this."
The meeting, which Chancey described as "positive," gave residents an opportunity to meet with law enforcement, learn their rights as gun owners and make plans to initiate a community-wide Neighborhood Watch program. Wilson, who will be leading that program, said she has collected contact information for 13 captains and will be sending out information on another upcoming session.
In addition to the watch program, Wilson said residents should keep in mind that it is always advisable to contact law enforcement if they feel uncomfortable about a situation.
"A lot of times citizens don't want to bother law enforcement, but please do," she said. "Those calls can help law enforcement establish a pattern."
Wilson said residents should also remember that animals are considered property by the state of Tennesse, and shooting a person to save property is an illegal act. Lethal force can only be administered in a situation when a person's life is in danger, she said.
After the meeting, community members created an Apison, Tenn., Facebook page to provide the community with information, and are planning to begin a community newsletter.
For more information about these projects or the new Neighborhood Watch program, email firstname.lastname@example.org.