A Knox County Sheriff’s Office patrol car pulled into the driveway of a Farragut resident last week. Marianne McGill checked her list.
The wife of Farragut Mayor Ralph McGill looked trim and official in her KCSO uniform as she got out of the white Crown Victoria. The former social worker and mother of two grown children was on her usual Friday morning rounds Friday, Aug. 4. With her was seven-year-long volunteer John Doggett, a retired lawyer, judge and special agent.
For the last 12 years, McGill has been part of the Senior Citizen Awareness Network through KCSO. She has paid hundreds of visits to senior citizens and gotten to know those on her Farragut route. McGill and Doggett say that just the presence of a police car in the neighborhood helps the older residents feel safer. Certainly, all of their recipients seemed to appreciate the chance to chat.
The first stop was Emma‘s house [last names omitted]. She met them on the carport and McGill and Doggett admired all the flowers she had planted.
“I’ve lived here about 49 years,” Emma said as they sat in her den. Brian, her son, checks on her regularly, she said. “Brian had worried about my well-being and I’d had seizures, so he got me on the list.” The cheerful Emma said she looked forward to their visit each week: “I don’t know what I’d do without them some weeks,” she said.
Back in the patrol car, McGill and Doggett talked about the program.
“Right now, there are two routes each Friday in Farragut and we do one of them,” McGill said, “but we may be starting a third. We have 14 on our route and about 14 on the other route. Some people request we see them every week, and some ask for every other week or once a month. There are seven or eight other groups that go out across Knox County on other days. It’s a great program. We say it’s the best-kept secret in Knox County. We need officers and we’re always looking for recipients.”
McGill said it felt kind of strange when she put on her uniform and drove a patrol car for the first time.
“The strangest thing is driving these cars on the interstate. You look in the rearview mirror and all these cars are behind you.”
She has a number of pins on her uniform, including one for the year she started — 2005 — and one that says “1,250,” for the number of hours she’s worked. That pin was from a few years back though; she’s accumulated about 2,000 by now.
“I volunteered for Mobile Meals and saw the needs of some of our elderly citizens,” she said. “I attended Citizen’s Academy and that’s where I found out about SCAN.”
Both McGill and Doggett have other volunteer interests. When they aren’t on patrol, McGill volunteers in the Emergency Room at Tennova Hospital and Doggett is busy at his church, Cokesbury United Methodist.
The next stop was at Helen’s house in the Concord area.
The retired LPN met them at the door.
“I look forward to your visit and appreciate it more than I can tell you all,” she said.
A few doors up was Juanita.
“They were visiting my neighbor Helen, and I said ‘I need company too,’” Juanita said. “I love it. I do go out. When my husband first died, I did not. I stayed home all the time. It’s a bright spot in my day and I look forward to it. I find out what’s going on in the outside world.”
“It’s a very fulfilling volunteer position,” McGill said. “I feel like I should give back. The SCAN program has saved the Sheriff’s department many dollars and hours across Knox County. The officers don’t have to run out to these
houses when there isn’t really an emergency. This is a way we can provide the residents a sense of security.”
To volunteer, call 865-215-5627.