For decades McGruff the Crime Dog has educated children about crime prevention and personal safety.
The no-nonsense bloodhound will make a guest appearance at the Durrett Avenue community on Oct. 24 with members of the Hopkinsville Police Department.
The first “Look Tuff with McGruff” Drive-Thru Cookout event will be from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. Oct. 24 in the Northside parking lot of Durrett Avenue Baptist Church located at 1918 Church St.
HPD public information officer Michael Atkins said Chief Clayton Sumner encouraged him and Sgt Federico Rodriguez, special operations officer, to create a positive way to reach out to the community during the coronavirus pandemic.
Many of the station’s outreach programs have been suspended because of COVID-19 restrictions, Atkins said.
“Because of COVID, we have been unable to get out in neighborhoods,” he said. “Getting out into the community is very important. We don’t want individuals to base our profession on the negativity that might be out there.”
During the drive-thru event, attendees are asked to enter the parking lot from Church Street as traffic will be one directional once inside the church parking lot.
Several HPD officers will be posted in the parking lot wearing masks and gloves, along with some members of our local Army Reserves, to meet and greet attendees and hand out goodie bags.
“The purpose is so that we can reach out and talk to the kids that are in the vehicles. Ask them what schools they go to, what kind of sports they are involved in. Trying to communicate with them — humanize the badge — to let them know that we’re not out here to hurt you, we’re here to help you. We’re friendly. We’re the ones you can come to for guidance if you need it.”
At the end of the drive-thru, children will be allowed to get out of their vehicles to meet McGruff and pose for a photo with the crime dog.
“When I was young McGruff was out with Smokey the bear as a symbol to pull in the younger generations because a lot of kids were afraid to approach the police,” Atkins said.
Rodriguez will be grilling hot dogs and preparing to-go lunches with chips and water for anyone who would like one as they leave the event.
Atkins said Hopkinsville Police Department wants to send a positive message to this city with events like this one.
“We want our neighborhoods safe just as you do in your community, on your block,” he said. “We’re doing our best to ensure that that happens … Ultimately, we’re taking bad guys off the street. We’re trying to get drugs and stuff off the streets. We’re just trying to make our communities a more safe place.”
As for our other Hopkinsville neighborhoods, McGruff will be visiting soon, Atkins said.
“We’re going to be traveling,” Atkins said. “We’re going to reach out to every neighborhood. We’re not just going to certain neighborhoods, we’re trying to reach the city as a whole — all our communities so they know we are here for every last one of them.”